Monday, September 15, 2014

Checking on pecan nut maturity

Mullahy, 15 Sept 2014
    Beginning in early September, I make a trip around the farm each week to check for pecan ripening, hoping to spot yet more pecans with split shucks. This week Mullahy had split about 20% of its shucks (photo at right). I pulled down a couple of nuts and pulled back the husk to check on the nut inside.

    Even though the shuck had split, the Mullahy nut inside had not fully developed its brown shell color and the nut was so wet with moisture, beads of water formed on the shell of the nut (photo at left). This pecan will need a couple of weeks drying time before the kernel would become dry enough to be considered edible.
    It is interesting to watch how pecan cultivars ripen in the fall. When I came to one of our Goosepond trees I found that the shuck had not split but the nut inside was fully colored  and was loose in the shuck (photo at right). I wouldn't be surprised to see the shuck pop open on this cultivar by the end of the week.
    Since I was finding advanced stages of ripening on a couple of early maturing pecan cultivars, I decided to check a couple of others. I cut the shuck off a Peruque nut (photo at left) to find that the nut had begun to separate from the shuck and the shell had developed about one-half its normal shell color. Peruque should split shuck before the end of September.
   Canton usually ripens the same time as Peruque, but the nut I cut open today was still mostly white with only a smattering of the markings that will turn black when the nut is fully mature. Looks like Peruque will ripen well ahead of Canton this year.
    The late spring freeze we experienced last April is going to play havoc with the normal order of ripening this year. Osage broke bud early in the spring and suffered serious freeze damage.  Osage trees re-budded from primary buds located at the base of  last year's shoots but the need to re-leaf  threw the timing for pistillate flower formation back by a couple of weeks. As a result, Osage nut development has been behind schedule all season. When I pulled a Osage nut from the tree and cut into the shuck, I found not even the slightest indication that this cultivar had started shuck dehiscence (photo above left).  Osage will ripen well before frost this fall but it will probably split shuck at least 2 weeks later than normal.