Elina Coneva, Professor of Horticulture

Elina D. Coneva

Extension Specialist & Professor


(334) 844-7230 



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139 C Funchess Hall
Auburn Univ, AL 36849



Ph.D., Plant Breeding, Agricultural University, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
B.S., Agronomy, Agricultural University, Plovdiv, Bulgaria


2016 – present
Extension Specialist and Professor, Fruit Crops, Department of Horticulture, Auburn University, August
2011 – 2016
Extension Specialist and Associate Professor, Fruit Crops, Department of Horticulture, Auburn University
2006 – 2011
Extension Specialist and Assistant Professor, Fruit Crops, Department of Horticulture, Auburn University
2004 – 2006
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, ON, Canada
2002 – 2004
Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, ON, Canada
June, 2001 – October, 2001
Research Associate, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Southern Crop Protection and Food Research Center, St. Catharines, ON, Canada
1988 – 2000
Research Scientist, Agricultural Academy, Apricot Research Station, Silistra, Bulgaria
1985 – 1988
Agronomist – Specialist, Elite Seeds and Nursery Stock State Company, Silistra, Bulgaria
Agronomist – Specialist, Agricultural Cooperative Drustar, Silistra, Bulgaria


2016 – 2019
AU College of Ag Office of Global Programs International Travel Awards
National Award for the Experiment Station Section Excellence in Multistate Research
July 12-16, 2015
Regional Winner, Applied Research Poster Award at the Annual Conference of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents, Sioux Falls, SD
July 12-16, 2015
Certificate of Achievement for a Research Paper, Horticulture Section of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Conference, Sioux Falls, SD
June 15, 2015
2015 Alabama Association of County Agricultural Agents and Specialist Professional Improvement First Place Poster Award, and Overall Best Poster Award for Applied Research and Extension, Auburn, AL,
February 1, 2015
2014 Southern Region of the American Society for Horticultural Science Henry M. Covington Extension Award
Dec, 2014
2014 Auburn University College of Agriculture’s Dean Award for Excellence in Extension and Outreach
March 20, 2013
2013 Friends of Southern IPM Pulling Together Award for Contributions to the Alabama IPM Communicator Newsletter, Southern IPM Center
July 17, 2012
The National Association of County Agricultural Agents Achievement Award in Recognition of Excellence in Extension Service Educational Programs
June 2012
The Alabama Association of County Agricultural Agents and Specialists Achievement Award, Alabama Association of County Agricultural Agents and Specialists, Outreach/Extension
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada Post Doctoral Fellowship, Canada


Alabama Wineries and Grape Growers Association, Educational Advisor
2006 – present
Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association Educational Advisor
Alabama Farmers Federation, State Horticultural Committee, Educational Advisor
2010 – present
American Pomological Society, Member
2010 – present
North American Strawberry Growers Association, Member
Alabama Association of County Agricultural Agents, Member
2009 – present
North American Blackberry and Raspberry Growers Association, Member
2008 – present
International Society of Horticultural Science, Member
2007 – present
International Tree Fruit Association, Member
2007 – present
American Society for Horticultural Science, Member
2006 – present
American Association of University Professors, Member



My research program at Auburn focuses on investigating the potential of alternative or underutilized fruit crops in Alabama that are disease resistant, adaptable to the hot and humid environment, and possess superior biological characteristics. Alabama is unique in that its fruit commodities are marketed almost exclusively through local outlets. My program is designed to evaluate different varieties of traditional fruit crops as well as newly developed selections to assess suitability for this market culture. Along with colleagues in related disciplines such as Plant Pathology, Entomology, Soil Science, Biosystems Engineering, Postharvest Physiology, a series of experiments are being conducted to evaluate the performance of various tree fruit and small fruit crops in the state and to determine the main fruit production constraints. New crops and advanced selections are introduced for testing in Alabama conditions. Improving economic and environmental sustainability through precision irrigation, new environmentally safe technologies for thinning peaches, innovative orchard training systems that improve production efficiency, are essential areas that my research program is design to address. The experimental results provided by my program demonstrate the economic advantages of growing better adapted fruit crops that are resistant to common pests in southeastern U.S. Studies in my lab led to identification and the scope of distribution of viruses affecting state’s blackberry production. Research done in my lab has identified a number of insect species that are effective vectors of a bacteria and identified insect pests that caused significant loses to fruit industry and especially to the blueberry crop in the southeastern U.S. Our improved understanding of crop/cultivar resistance to this pathogen/vector complex is going to provide information for proper cultivar selection, aid in developing of effective IPM strategies and contribute to reduced crop losses and sustainable industry.





  • Coneva, E.D., Hu, Y., Svyantek, A. and Vinson, E. (2019). Growth and development of Pierce’s disease-tolerant hybrid bunch grapes in the southeastern USA. Acta Hortic. 1248, 561-566 DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2019.1248.75
  • Ashley K. Brantley, James D. Spiers, Andrew Thompson, James Pitts, J. R. Kessler, Jr., A. Wright and Elina Coneva. 2019. Effective pollination period of Actinidia chinensiy ‘AU Golden Sunshine’ and A. deliciose ‘AU Fitzerald’ kiwifruit. HortScience 54(4):656-660.
  • G.L. Reighard, W. Bridges, Jr., D. Archbold, A. Atucha, W. Autio, T. Beckman, B. Black, D.J. Chavez, E. Coneva, K. Day, P. Francescatto, M. Kushad, R.S. Johnson, T. Lindstrom, J. Lordan, I.S. Minas, D. Ouellette, M. Parker, R. Pokharel, T. Robinson, J. Schupp, M. Warmund, and D. Wolfe. Nine-Year Rootstock Performance of the NC-1 40 ‘Redhaven’ Peach Trial across 13 States. J. of the American Pomological Society. (Accepted).
  • Edgar L. Vinson, III, Elina D. Coneva, Joseph M. Kemble, J. Raymond Kessler, Jr., Esendugue G. Fonsah, Penelope M. Perkins-Veazie, Floyd M. Woods and Jeff L. Sibley. Reflective Mulch Application and Cover Crop Usage to Stimulate Earlier Banana Flowering. J. Am. Pomological Society. (Accepted)
  • Svyantek, A.*, E. Coneva, J.R. Kessler, E. Vinson, and J. Pitts. 2019. Assessing the Effect of Selected PGRs on Yield, Fruit Quality and Morphology of `Fireprince´ Peaches. Acta Horticulturae (Accepted).
  • Vinson, Edgar L. III*, E.D. Coneva, J.M. Kemble, F.M. Woods, J.L. Sibley, E.G. Fonsah, P.M. Perkins-Veazie, and J.R. Kessler. 2018. Prediction of Flower Emergence and Evaluation of Cropping Potential in Selected Banana Cultivars (Musa sp.) Cultivated in Subtropical Conditions of Coastal Alabama. HortScience 53(11):1634–1639: https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTSCI13290-18
  • Reighard, G.L., Bridges, W., Archbold, D., Atucha, A., Autio, W., Beckman, T., Black, B., Chavez, D., Coneva, E.**, Day, K., Kushad, M., Johnson, R.S., Lindstrom, T., Lordan, J., Minas, I., Ouellette, D., Parker, M.L., Pokharel, R., Robinson, TL., Schupp, J., Warmund, M. and Wolfe, D. 2018. Rootstock performance in the 2009 NC-140 peach trial across 11 states. Acta Hortic. 1228, 181-186 DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1228.27 https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1228.27
  • Brantley, A.K.*, Spiers, J.D., Thompson*, A.B., Pitts, J.A., Kessler, J.R., Wright, A. and Coneva, E. 2018. Evaluating the length of time that kiwifruit flowers can be successfully pollinated. Acta Hortic. 1218, 139-142 DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1218.18 https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1218.18
  • Potter, R.J.* and Coneva, E.D. 2018. Assessment of Newly Released and Well-Established Rabbiteye Blueberry (Vaccinium ashei Reade) Cultivars in North Alabama. Agricultural Sciences, 9, 78-98. https://doi.org/10.4236/as.2018.91007
  • Vinson III, E.L.*, Coneva, E.D., Kemble, J.M., Woods, F.M., Sibley, J.L., Perkins-Veazie, P.M. and Fonsah, E.G. 2017. Phenological parameter responses gauge banana fruit production potential in the coastal region of Alabama, USA. Acta Hortic. 1178, 61-66 DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2017.1178.11
  • Dipayan Sarkar, Widya Agustinaha, Floyd Woods, Elina Coneva, Edgar Vinson and Kalidas Shetty. 2017. In Vitro Screening and Evaluation of Phenolic Antioxidant-linked Anti-Hyperglycemic Functions of Rabbit-Eye Blueberry (Vaccinium ashei) Cultivars” Journal of Berry Research 7:163–177. DOI:10.3233/JBR-170154
  • Andrej W. Svyantek*, Elina D. Coneva, J. Raymond Kessler, James D. Spiers, Edgar L. Vinson III, and James Pitts. 2016. Exploring the Growth and Cropping Potential of Pierce’s Disease Resistant Vitis vinifera L. Selections for Enhanced Viticultural Sustainability in Alabama and the Southeast. Journal of the American Pomological Society 70(4): 224-227.
  • Elina D. Coneva. 2016. Growing Pierce’s Disease Resistant 87.5% V. vinifera Grapes in Alabama. Acta Hortic. 1115, 75-82. DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1115.12 http://dx.doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1115.12
  • Edgar L. Vinson*, III, and Elina D. Coneva. 2015. Investigations on Phenological Responses to Determine Banana Fruit Production Potential in the Coastal Region of Alabama, USA. Journal of the American Pomological Society 69 (3):164-167.
  • Johnson, R.S., Reighard, G.L., Ouellette, D., Beckman, T.G., Coneva, E.D., Day, K.R., Fachinello, J., Robinson, T.L., Fallahi, E., Newell, M.J. and Wolfe, D. 2015. Environmental Effects on Fruit Ripening and Average Fruit Weight for Three Peach Cultivars. Acta Horticulturae (ISHS) 1084:453-458 http://www.actahort.org/books/1084/1084_62.htm
  • Reighard, G., Bridges, Jr., W., Archbold, D., Wolfe, D., Atucha, A., Pokharel, R., Autio, W., Beckman, T., Black, B., Lindstrom, T., Coneva, E., Day, K., Johnson, R.S., Kushad, M., Parker, M., Robinson, T., Schupp, J. and Warmund, M. 2015. NC-140 Peach Rootstock Testing in Thirteen U.S. States. Acta Horticulturae (ISHS) 1084:225-232 http://www.actahort.org/books/1084/1084_32.htm
  • A. W. Svyantek*, E. D. Coneva**, J. R. Kessler, J. D. Spiers, E. L. Vinson III, J. A. Pitts. Exploring the Growth and Cropping Potential of Pierce’s Disease Resistant Vitis vinifera L. Selections for Enhanced Viticultural Sustainability in Alabama and the Southeast. Journal of the American Pomological Society 70(4): 224-227.
  • Elina D. Coneva and Edgar L. Vinson*. 2014. Investigating Innovative Fruit Crop Production Systems for Local Markets. Auburn Speaks: On Food Systems. Auburn University: 81-85.
  • Richard Joel Potter*, Elina Coneva, Jeff Sibley, Fenny Dane, Jay Spiers and Kenneth Tilt. 2013. Land’s Prior Use Affects the Establishment and Productivity of Rabbiteye Blueberry (Vaccinium ashei) Cultivars. Journal of Environmental Science and Engineering A 2 (2013) 725-731.
  • Jessica R. Bowerman*, James D. Spiers, Eugene K. Blythe, Elina D. Coneva, Kenneth M. Tilt, and Donna A. Marshall. 2013. Cutting Type Affects Rooting Percentage of Vegetatively Propagated Sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum). Journal of Environmental Horticulture 31(4):253–258.
  • Michael R. Harrison*, James D. Spiers, Elina D. Coneva, Floyd M. Woods, J. Raymond Kessler, Jr., and William A. Dozier, Jr. 2013. Influence of Orchard Design on ‘Owari’ Satsuma Mandarin Citrus unshiu (Marcovitch) Fruit Quality, Physiology, and Productivity. Journal of the American Pomological Society 67(1):34-46.
  • Michael R. Harrison*, James Spiers, Elina Coneva, William Dozier and Floyd Woods. 2013. Orchard design influences fruit quality, canopy temperature, and yield of satsuma mandarin (Citrus unsui ‘Owari’). International Journal of Fruit Science 13(3): 334-344.
  • Bowerman, J.R.*, J.D. Spiers, E. Coneva, K.M. Tilt, E.K. Blythe, and D.A. Marshall. 2013. Propagation of sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum) improved via cutting type. Acta Horticulturae (ISHS) 1014:385-388.
  • Yilanna Hu*, Elina Coneva, Edgar Vinson, J. Raymond Kessler, Jr., Jay Spiers, and Joyce Ducar. 2012. Assessment of the Feasibility of Growing Pierce’s Disease Tolerant American and French-American Hybrid Bunch Grape Cultivars in Alabama. Journal of the American Pomological Society 66(4): 220-222.
  • Hummel, N., D. Attaway, E. Coneva, J. Braswell, W.O. Cline, D. Marshall, D.M. Ferrin, K.L. Machtmes, and H.J. Roy. 2012. Creating a Community of Practice for blueberries. International Journal of Fruit Science 12:350-359.
  • Hummel, N., D. Attaway, K.L. Machtmes, E. Coneva, Kimberly Morgan, William Cline. 2011. Collaborative Development of Nutrition Information for the All About Blueberries eXtension Community of Practice. Chinese Astronomy and Astrophysics. 43(4).
  • Ma*, X., E. Coneva, H. Fadamiro, J.F. Murphy, Charles Ray, and F. Dane. 2010. Seasonal occurrence and abundance of sharpshooter leafhoppers in Alabama Orchards and Vineyards. International Journal of Fruit Science 10:341-354.
  • Coneva, E., J. Murphy, R. Boozer, and N. Velasquez. 2010. Incidence and distribution of viruses in blackberry (Rubus sp.) in Alabama. International Journal of Fruit Science 10:87-95.
  • Coneva, E., J. Murphy, R. Boozer, and N. Velasquez. 2008. First report of Tobacco ringspot virus in Blackberry (Rubus sp.) in Alabama. Plant Disease 92: 1708.
  • Coneva, E., and J. Cline. 2006. Blossom thinners reduce crop load and increase fruit size and quality of peaches. HortScience 41:1253-1258.
  • Coneva, E., and J. Cline. 2006. Gibberellic acid inhibits flowering and reduces hand thinning of “Redhaven” peach. HortScience 41:1596-1601.


My Extension activities are based on interaction with other members of the Commercial Horticulture Team on projects that are designed to deliver horticulture based programs and support to our clientele throughout the state. Through the USDA-Southern Region SARE program, I conducted on-farm research on sustainable irrigation methods for alternative crop production. This project provided funding to organize and conduct two annual workshops during the course of the study, a field day for on-farm demonstrations, and provided educational fact sheets presenting project results and promoting sustainable cultural practices for the southeastern U.S. Newly generated knowledge aided the newly established blueberry industry in the Wiregrass region and entire southeast region to overcome considerable production constraints by applying a combination of proper irrigation scheduling and acid injection.

I am the Alabama lead investigator in a USDA-Specialty Crop Research Initiative funded project that developed an www.eXtension.com Community of Practice (CoP), focused on blueberry production and consumption. The “All about Blueberries” Community of Practice is adapting the best existing extension publications and developing new research-based extension recommendations related to blueberry production and consumption. The primary goal of the project is to increase blueberry production efficiency and consumption of blueberries nationwide. We are using a variety of approaches to develop project content including: video, audio podcasts, photo galleries, interactive-training modules, interactive diagrams, animation, and social networking tools (i.e. Facebook, Twitter and blogs). I maintain a close contact with blueberry producers and representatives of local farmers’ markets who serve on our advisory committee. I have assumed responsibilities as a leader for the “Blueberry Production” topic. Our multistate team launched the www.extension.org/blueberries website in 2010, which became a powerful one-stop-shop for blueberry production and consumption that benefits not only the producers, but also the nation.