Overview & Publications of current research projects at the center

Over three dozen active research projects are ongoing at the facility in coordination with over a dozen faculty members across five CAES departments.


  • Apple Rootstock Trial (Dr. Dario Chavez): The proposed research will enhance the economic viability of farms through improved selection of rootstocks leading to greater production efficiency and improved fruit quality. Orchards may use labor and land more efficiently leading to a faster return on investment with fewer tree losses.
  • Bitter rot (Dr. Phil Brannan): This is a major fungal disease for which disease control is limited in Georgia. It is a primary research emphasis of the pathology program for apples. We need to develop better fungicidal control for this disease. This is a continuing issue, and it will be a yearly research project. The chemicals tested will often change from year to year, but it is anticipated that this will be a yearly effort.
  • Apple Irrigation management and Stimulating Bud Development(Dr. Tom Kon NCSU): High desity orchard systems have trees with shallower roots and a great initial investment. Irrigation is key to promote the survival of these trees and ensure fruit development. This work will focus on irrigation modeling that uses real-time data from the orchard, along with forcasting, to irrigate effectively and in the interest of conserving resources. Additional work on these trees is looking at various stimulants to promote lateral bud development.


  • Mummy Berry Disease Spray Trials on Blueberry (Dr. Jonathan Oliver): Mummy berry disease is an important disease that affects blueberry production throughout the United States. Growers routinely use chemical fungicides to control this disease in commercial production. The purpose of this study is to evaluate fungicide products for their efficacy in controlling mummy berry disease of blueberry.


  • Evaluation of experimental bermuda grasses, zoysiagrasses, and centipede grasses (Dr. Brian Schwartz): The turfgrass breeding program has historically evaluated its germplasm in Blairsville, GA to determine responses in an environment that is not similar to what is common in Tifton, GA.


  • Antibiotic Use in Orchards: Impacts on Bee Health and Pollination Services (Dr. Laura Avila & Dr. Brett Blaauw): Like humans, bees have beneficial bacteria that live in their gut and play a key role in digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function. This is of concern because broad-scale antibiotic applications could disrupt these beneficial bacteria, with poorly understood but potentially negative impacts on bee health. There is a limited body of laboratory studies that suggest increased disease susceptibility and increased mortality of bees following antibiotic exposure, but much remains unknown. Additionally, pilot data from laboratory experiments of ours show that antibiotics can disrupt bee foraging behavior, raising the possibility that disruption of the bee gut microbiome could have negative effects on crop pollination.
  • Monitoring Brown Marmorated Stink Bug(Dr. Brett Blaauw): Monitoring this orchard pests life cycle in North GA as well as its impact on orchards.


  • Evaluating selected breeding material for landscape use in zone 7a (Dr. Carol Robacher): Abelia, Vitex, little bluestem, Arborvitae, and Wax Myrtle selections are currently being evaluated at this site. These evaluations are ongoing. Additional selections will be planted, including the new crop Aronia berry.
  • Evaluation of Ornamental Plants in North Georgia (Dr. John Ruter): Plants have been developed at the Tifton Campus in USDA hardiness zone 7b and need to be evaluated for cold hardiness and other attributes in a colder climate before they can be released as cultivars.
  • Aronia(Chokeberry) evaluation for commercial systems (Dr. Carol Robacker): There is potential for Aronia to be a secondary commodity marketed in Blueberry orchards. Varieties planted at GMREC are being evaulated for their potential.
  • Cultivars of Little Blue Stem, Miscanthus, and Pennisetum (Dr. Wayne Hanna): New cultivars of these plants are being evaluated for landscape use.


  • Statewide Variety Testing (Dr. Daniel Mailhot): New varieties of field corn are being evaluated for market potential. These results are posted annually on the Statewide variety Testing website and show the yield per acre expected and grain quality. Website
  • Sweet Corn Variety Trial (Dr. Tim Coolong): Select varieties planted for market potential. In coordination with Union County Extension, new varieties were evaluated and shared with producers and consumers for market potential.





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