This afternoon I decided to trim up some seedling pecan trees growing along the south edge of my farm. These trees are growing in the worst soil on my farm, an eroded Dennis silt loam that is shallow and very prone to drought. However, I can't bear to cut down these squirrel-planted pecan trees even if I'll never harvest a nut. I can still enjoy the shade.
When I drove up to the trees I noticed the ground was littered with small branches that look like they had been cut from the tree with the leaves still attached. I picked up four of the fallen shoots and brought them back to the house to photograph (photo at right).
Twig girdlers adults are active in late summer (August-Sept.). They girdle pecan stems at this time of year so that all the carbohydrates created by the leaves can not be translocated down to the roots and end up accumulating in the stem above the girdle. Eggs laid in crescent-shaped scars hatch the following spring, with the resulting larvae feeding on the nutrient rich twigs.
In commercial orchards, twig girdler is rarely a problem because sprays aimed at controlling pecan weevil during the month of August also control twig girdler. For non-sprayed pecan trees, twig girdler populations can reduced by picking up all fallen twigs during the winter months and burning them (thus killing the next generation of girdlers).
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Today, I collected a few Pawnee nuts from trees at the old Pecan Field Station. In previous years, I reduced the crop load of overloaded Pawnee trees by using a trunk shaker. Now that I've retired from the University, the field station has been abandoned and Pawnee was allowed to over-produce in 2018.
I collected Pawnee nuts from two areas. The first was a mature orchard with nuts hanging from every terminal. Prior to 2018, these mature Pawnee trees received a good summer shake every year they loaded up with nuts. The second spot was in a young orchard, just starting to produce nuts. Like all young pecan trees, these Pawnee trees had not reached the age when over-cropping becomes a problem. The young tree produced normal-sized Pawnee nuts while the over-loaded trees produced much smaller nuts (photo above). When I held those smaller nuts in my hands I could already tell the kernels inside were going to be shriveled.
As I suspected, the kernels produced by the over-loaded Pawnee trees were smaller, poorly filled, and even darker in color. The two kernels on the far right in the photo above were so paper thin that they would be inedible.
Pawnee is a cultivar that requires a high level of care but when treated right can produce beautiful pecans. Growing Pawnee profitably means adopting a good scab control program and shaking off nuts during the years when the trees set an over-abundant crop.
Thursday, November 22, 2018
|Harvesting native pecans near Chetopa, KS|
Thanksgiving is an American Holiday with a long tradition of family gatherings and roast turkey dinners. But here in pecan country, today's bright sunshine and dry soil conditions makes it the perfect day to pick pecans. By mid-morning, I could hear the familiar drone of pecan harvesters working in the native groves near my farm. I took a quick drive around the area and found that every grower was celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday the same way, by picking pecans. I can't think of a better way celebrate the fall harvest season.
Sunday, November 18, 2018
At shuck split, I collected at least 25 nuts from each tree. I let these nuts air dry for several weeks then began the process of measuring, weighing, and cracking nuts.
In addition to the hard numbers that I record on nut size, weight and percent kernel, I take notes on kernel color, ease of extracting full halves, adherence of shell packing material, and any glaring kernel defects.
As I collect this information year after year, I should be able to recognize those trees that produce quality pecans every year. Hopefully, that will lead to some new cultivars.