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Piedmont Research & Education Center

Research Focus & Programming

  • Behavior

    Behavior is an important component of animal health and Clemson researchers are conducting research designed to explore underlying developmental and physiological mechanisms of behavior while addressing practical approaches to solving behavior and production problems, as well as improving animal welfare on farms. This research involves examining the effects of housing systems, dietary and management practice on behavior, welfare, and performance of production animals including laying hens, dairy cows and equids.

    Researchers also are working to develop non-invasive, automated methods for collecting behavior and welfare data from individual animals in their home environments. Additional research includes investigating the effects of manipulating dietary calcium on improving laying hen welfare and performance through reducing osteoporosis and keel bone damage, while improving bone health, productivity and eggshell quality. This research should help in developing a practical approach to reduce keel damage in hens, as well as reassure the public that efforts are being made to improve the welfare of laying hens by housing them in systems that permit them to perform natural behaviors while simultaneously safeguarding their health and reducing pain and distress.

    Ahmed Ali
    Assistant Professor
    Animal and Veterinary Sciences Department

  • Crop Genetic and Genomic Resources

    Tremendous progress has been made to advance our understanding of crop genome organization, variation, and evolution, particularly as it relates to potential discovery and exploitation of useful genic or genotypic diversity in crop plants.  Critical to this progress has been advances in molecular biology/genetics, genomics, and computational biology as well as thoughtful applications of the theories of evolutionary biology and plant breeding.  It is well recognized that a crop genome is a dynamic unit whose organization and variation has been molded by evolutionary processes and human intervention.

     Our programs develop and apply innovative methods and tools to deliver insights linking crop conservation and utilization.  We combine multi-omics and data science with cutting-edge phenomic technologies to conserve and subsequently discover, optimize, and introgress novel traits from genebank collections for transfer to pre-breeding or breeding programs.  We will generate high-quality structural and functional genetic and genomic resources for complex species, contribute to discover genes (and associated traits) ultimately enabling the geneticists and breeders to improve crop resilience and quality.

    Stephen Kresovich - Robert and Lois Coker Trustees Endowed Chair of Genetics 


    Richard Boyles - Assistant Professor of Plant Breeding & Genetics

    Sandra Branham - Assistant Professor of Vegetable Breeding and Genetics

    Jenna Hershberger - Assistant Professor of Vegetable Breeding and Genetics

    Trevor Rife - Assistant Professor of Phenomics and Crop Improvement

    Dil Thavarajah - Professor of Pulse Quality and Nutritional Breeding


    Advanced Plant Technology Program
    Feed the Future
  • Muscle Biology

    Fescue toxicosis costs the beef, small ruminant and equine industries more than $1 billion dollars in annual losses. Research is focused on understanding how toxins found in tall fescue negatively impact muscle development and the long-term consequences on postnatal animal growth and carcass quality. The long-term goal of this research is to develop mitigation strategies with direct application to producers that enhance nutrient delivery for normal fetal development and stimulate postnatal muscle hypertrophy to enhance growth and carcass quality.

    Other research activities are evaluating how intramuscular fat is deposited in beef cattle. Intramuscular fat or marbling content has a major impact on carcass quality and value. The goal is to determine early management strategies that stimulate intramuscular fat deposition in meat producing animals. The results will help SC beef producers to remain competitive in the marketplace and increase profitability to expand sustainable beef production systems.

    Susan Duckett
    Ernest L. Corley Jr. Trustees Endowed Chair
    Animal and Veterinary Sciences Department

  • Pulse Quality & Nutritional Breeding

    The Pulse Quality and Nutritional Breeding Program is a dynamic team of scientists working to develop pulse crops with increased agronomic and nutritional value. We conduct organic pulse breeding using on-farm selection, in addition to conventional methods. Our lab measures seed quality traits through an array of techniques, including high-throughput FTIR phenotyping. To raise societal awareness of the economic, environmental, and health benefits of pulses, we publish material for farmers, consumers, and the scientific community in addition to conducting workshops, field days, and student events.

    Dil Thavarajah
    Professor of Pulse Quality and Nutritional Breeding
    Clemson University School of Health Faculty Research Scholar
    Agricultural and Environmental Science Department
    Plant and Environmental Sciences Department

    Pulse Quality and Nutritional Breeding Program
  • Peach Breeding

    Peach scion breeding focuses on developing high quality, disease resistant peach varieties for fresh market that are adapted to environmental conditions of Southeastern United States.

    Rootstock breeding focuses on developing Prunus rootstocks tolerant/resistant to replant diseases with focus on two replant diseases that affect southeast of U.S., Armillaria Root Rot and Peach Tree Short Life (PTSL).

    Researchers use traditional and molecular breeding techniques, to characterize and utilize peach genetic diversity in landraces, gene bank collections and elite germplasm, as well as marker/QTL discovery for the traits of interest, and development and utilization of genomic technology and computational approaches to improve breeding efficiency.

    Peach Breeding Lab
    Armillaria Root Rot Solutions

    Ksenija Gasic
    Peach Genetics and Breeding
    Professor of Horticulture
    Cooperative Extension Horticulture Program Team
    Plant and Environmental Sciences Department

  • Crop Ecophysiology

    Crop ecophysiological research focuses on developing climate-resilient, regionally adapted production systems by applying concepts from Physiology, Biochemistry, Lipidomics, and Genomics. Studies are conducted to understand the tolerance mechanisms of agronomic crops to abiotic stresses and how we can utilize this knowledge for developing new crop varieties and enhancing their performance through economically viable and environmentally sustainable practices. This research is framed at the molecular and cellular levels to understand biochemical and genetic pathways associated with stress tolerance; at the whole plant level to determine how various biochemical and physiological processes integrate to form yield under stress conditions; and at the whole field level to understand how crop plants interact with the environment.

    Sruthi Narayanan
    Associate Professor of Crop Ecophysiology
    Plant and Environmental Sciences Department

    Crop Ecophysiology Lab Website

Clemson researchers help provide easier access to specialty crop big data

peach trees in bloom Read the Full Article

SC Official Variety Trials

Crop Handbooks & Guides

aerial of research  plots in Clemson's Agricultural Climate Solutions

Agricultural Climate Solutions

Changing weather patterns make it more difficult and expensive for farmers to grow food. Farming in a changing climate can strain relationships between farmers and the communities that they serve. Agricultural landscapes can fuel climate change or be a source of climate solutions.

Agricultural Climate Solutions

Clemson Clean Plant Center

Start clean. Stay clean.

Helping fruit tree growers in the Southeast U.S. reduce the prevalence of viruses being spread by propagation of infected material.

Clemson Clean Plant Center Website
fruit trees in a field
tips of wheat plants


Through the S.C. Crops Blog, Clemson agricultural scientists and Cooperative Extension Agents provide producers with the latest pest, weather, disease and variety trial information, and post news and updates from workshops and Field Days.

SC Crops Blog


by Clemson Extension

Science-based, peer-reviewed publications written by Extension personnel and university scientists for professional and academic audiences, as well as owners and managers of livestock, horses, timber and land.

Visit Land-Grant Press
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Piedmont Research and Education Center
Piedmont Research and Education Center | 135 West Cherry Road, 101 Ag Service Center, Clemson, SC 29634-0385