Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nuts on young trees

    After successfully grafting a tree, you wait eagerly for that young tree to produce its first cluster of nuts. And when those first nuts split the shuck, you run out to the tree to peel the pecans out of the shucks, not caring that your fingers will soon turn black. The nuts looked so impressive all summer long. But when you peel them out of the shuck, the nuts are often small and often don't even look like the cultivar you thought you had grafted. Fear not! This is normal. Young trees, and I'm talking about trees 2-3 inches in diameter, often produce smaller-than-normal nuts. In the photo above you'll see 2 large, blocky nuts compared to 2 smaller, oval-shaped nuts. They are all samples from the same cultivar (KSU-OF1) but produced by 2 different trees. The large nuts were produced by a tree nearly 12 inches in diameter while the 2 smaller nuts represent the 1st crop produced by a tree 2.5 inches in diameter.
    The explanation for this common occurrence is simple. As a pecan tree grows, it becomes more and more of a dominate force in its environment. Larger trees are just better at competing with the ground cover for water than younger trees. More water means bigger and normally sized nuts. So don't be discouraged by small nuts on young trees, the time will come when a larger tree will be covered with large beautiful nuts.