What is in this article?:
- Tree nut farm advisor Gurreet Brar earned his Ph.D. in horticultural sciences from the University of Florida, Gainesville.
- Almonds are grown on nearly 246,000 acres of land in Fresno and Madera counties in California.
- While almonds continue to be a popular tree nut for global markets, pistachios grown in California are making significant gains in acres planted and commercial popularity worldwide.
Gurreet Brar is the newest tree nut farm advisor to join the University of California Cooperative Extension team of tree nut specialists in the San Joaquin Valley.
From India to Florida
Brar comes to the UCCE with an impressive string of work experience and academic success. He earned his Ph.D. last December in horticultural sciences from the University of Florida, Gainesville. His undergraduate and graduate degrees in horticulture were earned from the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in Ludhiana, India. He is fluent in English, Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu languages.
While at the University of Florida, Brar studied citrus physiology. He studied how water stress and poor nutrition in young nursery trees alter the balance of plant growth hormones, leading to poor bud take. He developed recommendations for citrus nursery growers about supplemental lighting and water management for citrus nurseries in greenhouses.
Some of the work his lab did was related to the citrus disease Huanglongbing (HLB) and the Asian Citrus Psyllid, which vectors the disease. According to Brar, the pathogen of HLB blocks the phloem in citrus trees, restricting the flow of nutrients and carbohydrates in the tree. Some of that work also looked at how to extend the life of trees with HLB by managing the nutritional needs of the tree. Fruit and juice quality studies were also part of his lab’s work.
“I have been doing research in tree physiology for quite a while now,” he said.
Other career highlights include:
- Agricultural executive with Pepsi Foods in India;
- Research Associate with Punjab Ag University for 5 years;
- Member of several professional horticulture associations;
- Prestigious fellowship by College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Florida;
- Certificate of Outstanding Achievement by UF International Center for three years;
- Ten professional research papers;
- Print and broadcast media experience;
- Science fair judge in California and Florida; and
- He successfully organized the first Southern San Joaquin Valley Almond Symposium, held earlier this year in Kerman.
Brar says trees fascinate him. He cites literature which places trees in high regard. He believes humans can learn much from trees.
“We get more than just oxygen and shade from trees,” he said.
While in India he developed 50 articles on 50 different trees, discussing the various beneficial uses of trees from herbal medicine to the creation of musical instruments. Those articles were translated into Punjabi and used to educate local residents on the benefits of trees.
Because of population pressures in the Indian state of Punjab, trees were being cut down to make room for people and agriculture.
“It’s the same in the cities here,” he said. “We build new homes and cut away the trees.”
According to Brar, there is a germplasm bank within PAU that hopes to build on the population of various tree species.
“It’s just a small step to encourage the growth of these tree species,” he said.