Monday, March 14, 2011

Judging nut samples

    We had a great meeting of the Kansas Nut Growers Association last Saturday--lots of fun and a great time for fellowship. Featured at our annual meeting are exhibits of nuts grown by members of the association and by the Pecan Experiment Field. The 2010 crop proved to be a good one and we had some great pecan samples (photo above). I always enjoy watching nut growers inspect the samples. They pick up a nut to get a feel for its weight and then take a closer look at the details of nut shape and outside shell markings. Kernel quality is especially important to our growers. Bright-colored, plump kernels are preferred by both grower and consumer. You'll note we place the shelled-out kernels in plastic bags to deter taste testing so everyone can get a chance to inspect kernel quality.
     The growers were excited to see nut samples from our pecan breeding project (photo at right). This is the 1st year some of the trees in our breeding block have produced nuts. As you might have expected, I was given dozens of opinions on which clone should be propagated. But there is one thing I've learned during 30 years of pecan cultivar testing--it's impossible to judge a pecan clone based on a single year's nut crop. The 2011 crop should give us even more clones to evaluate and an opportunity to see a second crop from the trees that produced in 2010.