College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; Public Service and Agriculture

Clemson’s Pee Dee REC Field Day features breeding for heat-tolerant and water-efficient plants and more


FLORENCE — South Carolina farmers can learn the latest research-based information needed to grow bountiful crops at the 2019 Clemson Pee Dee Research and Education Field Day Aug. 29.

Clemson researchers will discuss developing new soybean varieties to help increase the value of South Carolina soybeans during 2019 Pee Dee REC Field Day on Aug. 29.
Clemson researchers will discuss developing new soybean varieties to help increase the value of South Carolina soybeans during 2019 Pee Dee REC Field Day on Aug. 29.

The field day gets under way at 8 a.m. at the Pee Dee REC, 2200 Pocket Road, Florence. (For GPS directions, enter this address: 2200 Pocket Road, Darlington). This is an outdoor event, so attendees are encouraged to wear light clothing and comfortable shoes, and bring bug sprays, sun screen and so on. Lunch will be provided and pesticide credits will be offered. This field day is geared toward growers, producers and agricultural researchers in South Carolina, but everyone who has an interest in agriculture is invited.

“We have a full agenda of various topics to cover during the field day,” said Matt Smith, resident director. “These topics include plant breeding, variety trials, soil management and more. I invite everyone to attend and learn more about research we do here at the Pee Dee REC to help South Carolina farmers grow more productive crops.”

Field day topics include a discussion of a study involving cultivating heat-tolerant butterbeans led by Tony Melton, Clemson Extension senior county agent. Butterbeans have been served up on South Carolina plates for more than 100 years. These beans come in speckled and white varieties. Speckled butterbeans are considered by many to be the “jewels of the South,” but high temperatures seem to be taking away their shine. Melton is conducting research to develop a butterbean variety that can flourish in the South Carolina heat.

Ben Fallen, who leads the Clemson soybean breeding program at the Research and Education Center, will give an overview of what research has been done this year.

“Two areas that we will discuss are improved seed composition and abiotic stress resistance,” Fallen said. “Over the last few years we have been working on developing high protein soybean varieties that will help increase the value of South Carolina soybeans. This year we are conducting a feeding trial with broilers to determine what benefits are associated with high protein soybean meal. Our abiotic stress project focuses on breeding for drought tolerance in soybean. We are evaluating both commercial and public lines for their reactions under drought stress, to determine which lines preform the best under drought conditions. We hope to research those lines to identify possible mechanisms.”

These projects are funded by the South Carolina Soybean Board and the United Soybean Board.

Other topics on the schedule include:

  • insect pest management in corn;
  • building soils with clay amendments and cover crop mixtures;
  • breeding sorghum for water-use efficiency, mold resistance and aphid tolerance;
  • understanding genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and plant breeding;
  • breeding novel traits in cotton and peanut plants;
  • insect pests in cotton; and
  • the South Carolina Industrial Hemp Program.

The field day is scheduled to end at noon. Admission is free. For information, contact Jonathan Windham at 843-519-0487 or

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