Peaches on display at a grocery store

Image: Albert Cesare/The Enquirer/Imagn

Clemson To Grow Better Peaches

Receives grant to work on the program

April 13, 2019 - 4:00 am

Clemson University is working with money from a government grant to try and grow better tasting, better smelling and more nutritious peaches.

In the 2nd year of the three year grant of $150,000, geneticist Ksenija Gasic

Clemson University geneticist Ksenija Gasic
Image: Clemson University
, an Associate Professor of Horticulture specializing in peach genetics and breeding, is working with more than just peaches.  She and her collegues are also working with other stone fruits like apricots and plums, too.  The idea is to evaluate the biochemical and molecular regulation of carotenoid accumulation in order to improve the fruits in many ways including aroma, taste and nutrition. 

The grant money comes from United States-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund.  

Carotenoids, which is a source of vitamin A, are molecules that give peaches their bright orange and yellow colors and have been linked to antioxidants that have be linked to improve cardiovascular disorders and cancers. 

Gasic, in a press release, says that although peach growers have focused in the past on disease resistance and the size of the fruit, they have neglected flavor and aroma. While new peach varieties are producing larger, eye-appealing fruits, other problems have emerged, said Gasic. These larger, perishable fruits often lose flavor quickly due to inadequate storage and handling during distribution, so fruits consumers purchase aren’t nearly as tasty as those growers pick. Texture has been adversely affected too, Gasic said, with some varieties becoming mealy.

Gasic is collaboratting with Douglas Bielenberg, an associate professor of biological sciences, and researchers at the Israel Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on the project. 

 

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