Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New Consortium Test IDs EFB Sooner
EFB causes severe cankering and eventual
death of hazelnut plants.

Hazelnuts have the potential to be a major crop across many parts of the U.S. and southern Canada. Several characteristics contribute to this potential they’re a perennial crop requiring few inputs once established, they use less water and fossil fuel than annual crops, are drought resistant, can be grown on sloping land, and are adaptable to marginal soils.

One of the major barriers preventing widespread hazelnut production in the U.S. is susceptibility to eastern filbert blight (EFB), a fungal disease that kills European hazelnuts. Hybrid Hazelnut Consortium member Dr. Thomas Molnar at Rutgers has developed a real-time, PCR-based test to detect Anisogramma anomala (the pathogen that causes EFB) at an early stage. 

It was tested last spring and summer and found to be very effective, cutting the time to determine whether a plant is infected with EFB by as much as 18 months. Using this test will accelerate the Consortium’s research by allowing us to focus attention and resources on plants identified at an early stage as very likely to be EFB resistant.

This is a major step and means that more resistant plants will be in fields sooner to be evaluated for cold hardiness, heat tolerance, kernel quality and yield, and pest resistance.

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