Over the past couple of weeks, I've been looking at a lot of pecan samples. We collected nuts from 216 trees in our pecan breeding plot and cracked 10 nuts from each tree. We evaluated those nuts for size, percent kernel, and kernel appearance. Nut weight and percent kernel are easy measurements to determine with the aid of a gram scale and calculator. However, when it comes down to kernel appearance things get a little more difficult to quantify.
A smooth, golden kernel color is most desirable for pecan. Light-colored kernels are described by the official USDA pecan grading system as "Fancy". However, in evaluating hundreds of nut samples, my eye detects subtle color differences even among kernels that would be graded as Fancy. The photo at right demonstrates these subtle color differences. At the top are the lightest colored kernels I found among our breeding plot nuts. In the middle are kernels with a beautiful golden pecan color. The kernels at the bottom are ever so slightly darker than the ones above but still have a pleasing sandy coloration. Which looks best to you?
All nut samples from our breeding project will be on display during the KNGA annual meeting. Click on the event tab above for details.