Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lakota and Mandan

     Every time a new cultivar is released it generates a lot of interest among pecan growers. Lakota and Mandan are the current hot topics among northern pecan growers. We've had Lakota under test a long time but our exprience with Mandan has been limited to just the past 2 cropping seasons.
    Let me start with Lakota (photo above). Lakota was developed by the USDA and field tested at the Pecan Experiment Field. This cultivar originated from a hand pollinated cross of Major and Mahan and was originally tested as USDA 64-6-502. Productivity, precocity, and scab resistance were three cultivar characteristics that made this clone stand out among several other clones we have under evaluation (recent yield and nut quality data in this post).
    Lakota has a protogynous flowering habit and matures its nut about two weeks after Pawnee. Nuts have had an average weight of 7.26 g and 56.85% kernel in our field trials. Lakota produces excellent quality kernels. The kernels are smooth, even colored, and fall free from the shell when cracked. Unlike many older cultivars, the kernel quality of Lakota remains high even under heavy crop loads.
     Lakota will over-produce as trees mature, which can lead to severe alternate bearing. However, alternate bearing can be minimized by using mid-summer shaking to reduce crop load during years of excessive nut set.  In terms of over-production and alternate bearing, Lakota seems to be a scab-free version of Pawnee. I am grafting more Lakota in my orchard.
    Mandan was also developed by the USDA from a cross of  'BW-1' and Osage and released in 2009 (photo at left).  We received scions of Mandan in 2009 and grafted this clone into fairly large trees to encourage early fruiting. We produced nuts in 2011 and 2012.
   Because our grafts are so young, I can not comment of the bearing potential of this cultivar. However, here's what I noticed so far. Mandan has a protandrous flowering habit and has ripened its nuts the same time as Pawnee. We have seen scab develop on Mandan but have yet to have a normally humid spring to determine the severity of scab infection (both 2011 and 2012 were extremely dry seasons).
   Mandan nuts are large, averaging 8.34 g in weight. Our Mandan pecans have produced 60.62% kernel indicating that this cultivar has an extremely thin shell. At this point in our evaluation of Mandan, I'm most concerned about kernel quality. Mandan kernels seem to darken quickly, in the same way Posey and Witte darken to an unattractive kernel color just a few weeks after harvest. Kernels of Mandan are also krinkled and have a tendency to exhibit dark viens, two kernel characterists that make for ugly pecan meats. At this point, I'm not convinced Mandan is a good cultivar choice for the long run.