Seed World

Ksenija Gasic’s Adventures in Peach Breeding

Ksenija Gasic is a stone fruit breeder and incoming president of the National Association of Plant Breeders. She sat down to talk about her latest research and her vision for the NAPB as she fills the president’s chair. The NAPB is holding its virtual meeting this week, hosted by Cornell University.

“The formation of the NAPB was actually an excellent idea, because now we finally had a home for all plant breeders, private and public to get together and fight for plant breeding needs,” she says.

“Coming in as president, I have big shoes to fill. Everything I’ve done in my life kind of was focused on fruit breeding. Learning about problems and issues in the wider breeding world has opened my eyes to the problems that we face as a plant breeding community. We need to continue with the increase in our membership and also upgrading our website.”

Hailing from Serbia, Gasic is looking forward to releasing a new peach variety in the coming few years from her breeding program. She was awarded the 2020 Godley-Snell Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research.

Gasic, who works in the plant and environmental sciences department in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Science, develops new stone fruit cultivars with superior product quality and disease resistance. Her work focuses on varieties suited to southeastern U.S. growing conditions.

Gasic also supports the future of fruit crop production by mentoring and advising high school students, undergraduates, graduate students, visiting scientists and post-doctoral research associates, which includes advising 24 undergraduate and nine graduate students.

In addition to her research and teaching success, Gasic focuses much of her energy on imparting knowledge to growers throughout South Carolina and the Southeast.

“Fruit breeding takes time. Fifteen to 20 years is a normal timeline in perennial tree fruit to get a cultivar before you can actually get something released. When I started my breeding program I started from zero, so we really had to work hard to get something we could patent and release. We’re very excited,” she adds.

—with files from Clemson University