Tree root research helps fruit growers develop healthy trees

By Peter Kent

blooming peach treesPeach growers are facing a new challenge to production, called Peach Replant Disorder. New trees tend to grow slower and yield less fruit when they are planted on a site that had been planted with peaches earlier.

For the answer to this problem, plant pathologist Christina Wells and her graduate students are focusing on the web of tiny roots that trees depend on for nourishment.

“When are the fine roots of trees produced, how long do they live, and why do they die?” Wells asked. “We are using root observation tubes and miniaturized cameras to monitor changes in fine root population dynamics in response to irrigation, disease and soil variables.”

Her work with colleagues Desmond Layne and Greg Reighard will aid growers to produce healthy orchards and higher fruit yields. The research also may help foresters and landscape horticulturists improve tree growth and longevity.

For information: Christina Wells, 864-656-6940,