Musser Fruit Farm Research


Clemson’s researchers have developed a rootstock, “Guardian™“ Brand BY520-9, that is one of the most widely used rootstocks in the Southeast. It was developed at the Musser Farm in cooperation with the USDA Agricultural Research Station in Bryon, Ga. This rootstock is resistant to peach tree short-life complex, which was once a devastating problem in South Carolina. Prior to its release growers in South Carolina and the entire Southeast were losing thousands of trees to the condition, which translated to millions of dollars annually.

The “Guardian™“ Brand BY520-9 rootstock was released in 1994 as an alternative to previously popular rootstocks. Testing of the rootstock showed that it outlived both Lovell and Nemaguard on peach tree short life (PTSL) sites.

The seed is produced at the Musser Fruit Research Farm and is distributed and sold to licensed producers through the South Carolina Foundation Seed Association.

“Guardian™“ Brand BY520-9 peach rootstock has been selected to receive the 2006 American Society for Horticultural Science Fruit Breeders Working Group “Outstanding Fruit Cultivar Award.” The recipients of this award from Clemson University include Mr. Billy Newall, Dr. Greg Reighard and Dr. Eldon Zehr.  The recipients from the Agricultural Research Station at Byron are Dr. Tom Beckman, Dr. Andy Nyczepir and Dr. Dick Okie.


The main building totals 6,300 ft2 and houses the farm office, laboratories, fruit packing line, cold storage facilities, growth chambers, wet labs, work bench areas, computer stations, and farm management and technical staff offices.  Other facilities in addition to the main building include an equipment workshop with an attached plant pathology laboratory, a greenhouse, a shade house, a pot lot, two equipment sheds with enclosed storage rooms and cages, a pesticide handling facility with retention pond, seed processing area, a weather station, two wind machines, and two remote research/storage buildings used by the Departments of Plant Pathology and Entomology.

The facility was planned as a model fruit research center for the Southeast.  Interdisciplinary teams of scientists from the disciplines of horticulture, entomology, plant pathology, packaging science, post harvest physiology, economics, soils, engineering, meteorology, and molecular biology cooperate to create new information to advance the fruit industry.

The Musser Center has an excellent collection of commercial peach cultivars, rootstocks, and related Prunus species.  Current orchard acreage maintained for horticulture, plant pathology, physiology, and entomology research and extension programs are 50 acres of peaches, 4 acres of apples and pears, 2 acres of minor fruits, and 1 acre of small fruits. Edible landscaping has been implemented around the buildings for academic teaching.