Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pecan buds showing signs of growth

   Our pecan trees have been waiting all spring from some warm over-night temperatures to signal the arrival of a new growing season. Well, we had two warm nights in a row and today we spotted the first signs of bud development. I collected twigs from several cultivars to photograph and found most trees in the outer scale split stage (Warren 346, Kanza, and Greenriver). The red arrows in the photo at right points to buds with a split outer scale. In contrast, we found that Lakota buds had already shed the outer scale completely (black arrow). Colby, on the other hand was still completely dormant.
   In normal years, cultivars with southern ancestry usually break bud before cultivars that have originated in the north. However, this year, it looks like budbreak is going to be unpredictable. Warren 346 is a far northern cultivar and it is breaking bud right along with Kanza and Greenriver. Lakota and Kanza share the same northern cultivar parent (Major) but Lakota is sightly ahead of Kanza.

    This year's bud break picture becomes even more unusual when I found that our hickories are still dormant while pecans have started to push (photo at left). In the normal scheme of things, hickories and hicans (pecan/hickory hybrids) break bud 7 to 10 days before pecan. This year might become one of those rare years when hickory and pecan development coincides close enough to allow natural inter-genetic cross pollination. You never know, a new hican might arise from a seed pollinated in 2014.