Location: Southern Horticultural Research
Title: Assessment of the tung tree (Vernicia fordii) germplasm collection and latest cultivar release at the USDA-ARS Southern Horticultural Research Unit in Poplarville, MS Authors
Submitted to: Botanical Society of America Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: August 3, 2013
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Tung trees (Vernicia fordii, syn Aleurites fordii) and tung oil production have a long history in the gulf coast region. The Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory (TCSHL) in Poplarville, MS was formerly the USDA Tung Oil Research Station in the 1940s, 50s and 60s and still maintains an extensive tung tree germplasm collection. In addition to early cultivars used in commercial tung oil production, the collection preserved many of the historic breeding lines, which include late flowering parents to enhance protection from freeze damage due to late season frosts. The USDA tung breeding program was discontinued in 1969 after the tung oil industry collapsed in the U.S. due to import competition and hurricane Camille, which destroyed tung orchards in Pearl River County, MS. Recent investigations into tung oil properties and potential uses have revived interest in growing advanced cultivars for tung oil production as a specialty crop. Here we document a brief history of the tung breeding program at TCSHL including the evaluation of elite selections for potential release as new cultivars.