‘Screenhouse’ helps ensure healthy peach trees

By Peter Kent

ScreenhousePeach growers across the Southeast are planting healthy, productive trees in part because of the good start they get at Clemson’s Musser Fruit Farm.

Plant virologist Simon Scott has been testing peach trees and directing the Southeastern Budwood Program. Funded by peach growers and nurseries in South Carolina and Georgia, the program ensures that commercial peach cultivars are free from plum pox and other viruses that reduce crop yield and fruit quality.

Tested trees are sent to nurseries in Tennessee that propagate new planting material. The nurseries produce more than three million trees annually that are distributed throughout the Southeast.

During testing, the peach cultivars are housed in a screened environment  — a screenhouse — to minimize exposure to insects and any viruses the pests may transmit.

The screenhouse at Clemson was funded by the USDA and is one of three U.S. centers testing temperate fruit trees — peach, almond, cherry, apricot, apple, and pear.

For information: Simon Scott, 864-656-5745, sscott@clemson.edu