Wednesday, September 21, 2011

'Giles' pecan kernel fill

     Historically, the cultivar Giles has been a heavy producer of pecans. So heavy, that kernel fill often suffers during "on" years. This year, our Giles trees have a good to heavy crop  and with all the dry weather we've experienced this year, I was afraid most of our Giles nuts would end up on the cleaning pile (ei. poorly filled, light nuts). The photo at right is a cross section of a Giles nut cut last week (14 Sept. 2011, before the rain). You can see lots of air spaces and poor kernel development.
    A week later (photo at right), Giles' kernel development is much improved thanks to 3.5 inches of rain over last weekend. Although you can still see a line running down the middle of each kernel half, it looks like we will have no trouble marketing our Giles crop this Fall.
     There are a couple more things you can notice in the photos about kernel filling . Look carefully at the shell packing material between the two kernel halves. As the kernel has expanded, the partition between halves has become compressed and appears more woody. Also compacted by kernel deposition is the packing material that fills the dorsal groves. Note the color change from orange to tan.

    Part of the reason our pecans are filling so well is because the dry weather started early in the nut sizing period (July). This means that nut expansion was inhibited by lack of rain and our trees produced smaller nuts than in previous seasons.  The photo at left shows a cross section of this year's Giles nut compared to a Giles nut grown in the past. Look at the shape of the shell of both nuts. This year's Giles is shorter and more tapered at the base than the "normal" Giles nut. The good news is that a smaller nut is easier to fill with kernel (less kernel to make) and buyers always like to see plump kernels when they are paying top dollar for northern pecans.