For decades, scientists have used genetics and molecular markers to advance research and plant breeding of agricultural crops. As a result, yields have increased, water and nutrient efficiency has improved, and plants can better defend against disease and pests.

Scientists recently have begun applying these same technologies to pecan breeding and research. Several institutions, including the Noble Foundation, have started examining the genetic potential of pecans. The use of genetics will help researchers understand how pecan trees function and potentially reveal solutions to production problems such as alternate bearing, flowering, and disease and insect resistance.

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“With the aid of these tools, breeding programs will be able to shorten the time required to evaluate the product of our crossbreeding activities before they are released,” said Charles Rohla, Ph.D., Noble Foundation pecan specialist and assistant professor. “This will be a remarkable leap forward for pecan researchers and producers.”

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