Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Kanza: Yield and nut quality 2012

2012 Kanza Crop
    I am a fan of the Kanza pecan cultivar. These beautiful, tasty and easy-to-shell nuts are the only ones that end up in my freezer (photo at right).
    Over the past few years I've been sharing production records from a block of Kanza trees we established in 1995. Last winter we removed 7 trees from this block of 112 trees as part of a planned tree thinning operation. What is interesting is that nut production did not drop significantly from 2011 to 2012 despite the loss of 6% of the orchard's trees.
    Weather conditions during the 2011 and 2012 crop years were similar; both summers were hot and dry. In 2011 we averaged 899 lbs/acre from this young orchard, while in 2012 yield averaged 810 lbs./acre. I was really surprised that the cumulative effect of two years of  drought did not impact the 2012 crop even more that it did.

    I've been cracking Kanza nuts over the past several days and have noticed a few nuts with severe kernel defects. In the photo at left, the 5 nuts in the top row are indicative of the quality of nuts produced by Kanza this year. However, as you can see by the four nuts in the bottom row of the photo, I've also found a smattering poorly filled and dark kernels in our cracked Kanza nuts. Fortunately, the number of these wafer-like kernels is probably less that 0.1% of all cracked nuts. But this makes me wonder: Is  this year's lower Kanza yield due in part to a greater number of light nuts being blown out of the cleaner or removed from the picking table as stick-tights? I think so.