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06 March 2020 | Story Igno van Niekerk | Photo Igno van Niekerk
 Gert Marais looking at pecan leave_
Dr Gert Marais says the UFS is helping to ensure that the pecan industry not only survives but thrives.

“When opportunity knocks, you must jump. The more opportunity knocks, the more you should jump.” 

Look closely, and you will notice the rise in pecan-nut plantations as you travel through South Africa. Do not be surprised if you find that the UFS’s pecan-nut project – steered by Dr Gert Marais, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Plant Sciences – is associated with those pecans.

Main exporter
In an ever expanding and interconnected global economy, South Africa has joined the USA as main exporters of pecan nuts to China. We have several advantages; our seasons differ from that of the USA, and we have the benefit that we are harvesting and exporting pecan nuts at the time when they are most popular at Chinese festivals and events.

Although it takes a long time to grow pecan trees (seven to eight years before they start producing), the long wait has extensive benefits. Dr Marias explains: “Unlike other crops, you do not have to prepare the soil and plant new crops annually. Rather than re-investing, you only need to do proper maintenance. Once planted, the pecan trees can produce for generations to come. And the UFS is involved in ensuring that the pecan industry not only survives but thrives.”

Empowering farmers
As the pecan industry in South Africa grows, new challenges are identified. Some trees suffer from a condition called overall decline, others from scab, and some others are infested by combinations of fungi not found in other countries. Dr Marais and his team have filed several ‘first reports’ of combinations between pecans and pathogens, leading to opportunities for MSc research projects and making a difference in the industry.

Dr Marais undertakes six field trips per year to visit all the production areas in South Africa, share information at farmer’s days, arrange courses to ensure best practices with regard to pecan cultivation; students also use these visits to collect samples for their research. Due to the systemic collaboration between the private sector and the university, farmers are empowered to manage their pecan crops better, the university benefits from cutting-edge research, and South Africa becomes a stronger player in the international economy.

Opportunity is knocking. And the UFS is jumping.

News Archive

Bloemfontein Campus gets ready for Kleinsêr
2013-07-30

11 July 2013

Kleinsêr poster (pdf)

Excitement is mounting on the Bloemfontein Campus, with residences getting ready to battle it out in this year’s Kleinsêr competition. The finals of the Bloemfontein-McDonald’s Kovsie Kleinsêr take place on 3 August 2013, with campus and city residences showcasing their singing, dancing and acting talent.

Leading up to the finals of the competition, Kleinsêr rotations will take place on 31 July and 1 August 2013. As with Stagedoor earlier this year, rotations will take place in the Student Life Colleges format, with new residences, House ConLaurês and House Outeniqua, joining the festivities.

Female residences kick their Kleinsêr campaign off first, with their rotations on 31 July. Rotations for male residences take place the following day.

The top male and female residence will represent the university at the national finals at the North-West University’s Potchefstroom Campus on 31 August 2013.

Tickets on sale at Offices 46 and 48, Thakaneng Bridge

Kovsie Church: R30
Scaena: R50
Odeion: R80

For more information, please contact Tonderai Chiyindiko at +27(0)51 401 9876 or Chiyindikot@ufs.ac.za.

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