Friday, January 28, 2011

Cutting scions

Our annual January thaw came around this week, so we took advantage of some beautiful weather to cut pecan scion wood. One of the best ideas we've had when it comes to growing high quality propagation wood is to develop a scion wood orchard. In the photo at left, long, one-year-old shoots are cut from specially grown scion wood trees. Its nice to have a hydraulic lift for this type of work but most of the scions could be reached with a pole pruner.
     In the photo at right, you can see one of our a scion wood trees with all the scions removed. Note that we leave lots of stubby branches on the trees to provide ample places for the tree to sprout new vigorous shoots next summer.
    Even when these trees are butchered annually they still produce a few nut clusters (note shucks on still on the tree). We collect the first nuts produced by each tree in our scion wood orchard and verify that the cultivar is true to type. We then  paint the green ring on the trunk (green=good to go) to indicate that the tree is ready for scion wood production. The trees in the scion wood block are planted 15 feet apart in rows 30 feet apart.

 Once we collect the scion wood branches, we cut the wood into ~8 inch long bud sticks and place them in plastic boxes (photo at left).  Inside the boxes we also place some dampened paper towels to ensure high humidity inside the box during storage.  We store the wood at 35 degrees F until it time to ship out the wood in early April.