NMSU received $4.4 million grant for Pecan Research

In order to examine in detail the genetics of the pecan plant, the New Mexico State University has received a 4.4 million-dollar grant to research the most fruitful crop of the state. The researchers shall be making use of technology so that the pecan plant could be examined individually and study its genetic makeup.

Researchers are optimistic that the technology shall enable them to know about the traits of pecan like its size, flavor, nutrient and the tolerance level to drought stress before it is fully grown into a tree.

This grant was awarded to New Mexico State University and funded as part of the Specialty Crop Research Initiative and it was through the U.S Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture that the grant was processed. The grant award was announced recently by the Agricultural Secretary Tim Vilsack.

The Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology, USDA in Texas, Louisiana and Georgia, University of Arizona and Samuel Roberts Nobel Foundation shall be teaming up with NMSU on the research project. Most of the funding is to be utilized for students, post-docs researchers and sequencing services.

The Research Associate Professor Jennifer Randall of NMSU had submitted the grant application in March and NMSU’s allotment was part of a $36.5 million that had been awarded for Research and Extension to provide support to the American farmers.

Randall happens to be a researcher in the Department of Entomology, Weed Science and Plant Pathology in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences as well as the lead investigator for the grant. Randall has expressed great enthusiasm and excitement upon achieving the grant and confirmed a positive response from everyone who has gotten to know about it. The goal is to grow more productive pecan trees leading to improved production. The dates start from Sept. 1 to Aug 31, 2021.

Growing pecan trees is effected due to tree diseases and salty water. According to Randall, four pecan trees having entirely different traits are to be targeted so that their genomes can be studied. Those genes shall be focused that are essential for salinity tolerance and disease resistance. Randall has also formulated a tool that shall be brought to use in the rootstock cloning which shall be best for special orchard areas and rootstock could be cloned for ideal tree growth.

Pecan happens to be an international crop but Randall is hopeful about what the grant will help accomplishing in the United States.  It is anticipated that pecan growth will increase as it is grown in 25 U.S states. Being one of the native trees, a lot of genetic diversity is yet to be studied as growers are unaware of the full benefits.

Randall further says that though pecan has been an industry for more than 100 years it is still taking baby steps in term of crop cultivation as trees differ slightly from the native ones leaving room for major improvements. This possibly is the best timing that could be for grant.

A website shall be launched to inform growers about the new tools and advancements and it shall be dedicated to pecan research aiding them in farming methods.