Tuesday, October 25, 2011
In testing new cultivars, we are always anxious to discover the average date of shuck split. However, we have learned to be a little patient before coming to any conclusions about ripening time. In the photo above, you see two clusters of pecans. Both clusters were collected on the same day and from the same cultivar--Lakota. The cluster on the left was taken from a young tree (4 inches in diameter) while the one on the right was taken from a tree 28-years-old (12 inches DBH). In previous posts, I've talked about tree age and drought stress and how pecan trees grow to dominate the landscape. Here is another example of how young trees can differ from mature trees.
It is no wonder why it takes so long to develop and test a new pecan cultivar. Only trees that have grown large enough to "dominate the landscape" provide reliable nut size and maturity date information.
Friday, October 21, 2011
double-row intercrop system in a previous post and also posted photos of this Spring's soybean planting. Like every field crop planted in SE Kansas this year, our soybean crop suffered from a lack of water. Yield was well below normal for full season beans. The final tally was 23 bushels/acre sold at $11.62/bu.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Plant geneticists have created genetically altered cotton and soybeans cultivars resistant to boll worm and pod worm. This has dramatically reduced the amount of pesticides applied to these crops in the Bootheel. However, with fewer sprays, plant bugs flourish and multiply in cotton and soybean fields. When these field crops mature, plant bugs look for alternative plant hosts on which to feed and pecan fits the bill.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Its interesting how our different cultivars react to drought stress in terms of nut shape. To document these changes in nut shape, I've collected nuts from several cultivars then arranged them in order of increasing drought stress.As drought stress increases, all pecan cultivars produce smaller nuts. However, there can be other changes as well. Note that the base of Giles and Maramec nuts get narrow as compared apex of the pecan. A nut with a strongly tapered base means that the kernels inside will also be strongly tapered. In comparison, Kanza and Major nuts just seem to shrink, turning into smaller, rounder pecans.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Pecan trees are not known for brilliant fall color. During normal years, pecan trees hold their green leaves up until the first killing freeze. When the freeze comes, pecan leaves turn brown and fall from the trees almost over night. But this year's drought has changed everything. Pecan trees are shutting down early and putting on a beautiful display of golden leaves.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Today we applied 100 lbs.of urea per acre (46 lbs N/Ac) to our pecan grove (photo above). Fall fertilization has proven to be a good way to build nitrogen reserves in native pecan trees, boost yields, and reduce alternate bearing. We generally make this fall application soon after Oct. 1 but wait to time the application to coincide with a rainfall event. This morning, we had a brief shower (.11 inches) so we decided to rush over to the COOP and pick up a load of urea. The ground was still damp when we applied the fertilizer allowing the urea to melt into soil almost immediately.
Next March we will make another fertilizer application but will add potassium to the mix. Our normal Spring fertilizer application is 150 lbs. urea and 100 lbs. potash/ acre (69 lbs. N and 60 Lbs. K).
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Pecan Experiment Field
Tuesday Oct. 11
When the 2011 growing season began we originally had planned of holding a full day pecan field day at the Pecan Experiment Field. And then the hot, dry summer hit. At several times during the growing season, I was afraid that this year’s pecan crop would be a total failure. No rain, 100 degree temperatures, and gaping cracks in the soil all combined to make our trees look terrible. By the end of August I decided that 2011 was not a good year to promote pecan culture. Area farmers were disheartened by a dismal corn crop, poor stands of soybeans and a total lack of forage for cattle. Everyone was worn out by the oppressive heat. So I cancelled our field day plans.
Fortunately, in mid-September we had some much needed rain. That one rain event turned a poor quality pecan crop into a good quality crop. However, by the time things turned around it was too late to get a full field day put together.
Since we haven’t had this kind of drought since 1980, I think we have a great opportunity to see how the numerous cultivars we have under test have fared under drought stress. This year is a good time for a Harvest Walk.
The Harvest Walk will be held at the Pecan Experiment Field, located 2 miles East of Chetopa, KS on US HWY 166 and 3/4 mile south 120th Street. We will be holding this meeting rain or shine so come prepared for the weather. All are welcomed to attend.