Thursday, October 30, 2014

Peruque susceptible to bird damage

    One of the biggest complaints growers have in growing the Peruque pecan cultivar is that it seems especially prone to bird damage. Today, we harvested several Peruque trees and I was amazed by how many bird pecked nuts I had to pull off the inspection belt when we cleaned the machine harvested nuts (photo above).
    All these holes were created by one of several species of woodpeckers or flickers. These birds use their long narrow beaks to drill through Peruque's thin shell to get at the kernel inside. Woodpeckers are typically insect feeding birds that search tree bark or decaying branches for their prey. However, the high fat content of the pecan kernel is just too hard for a woodpecker to pass up.
    What bothers me the most about this type of bird damage is that woodpeckers eat only a fraction of the pecan's kernel. Why not finish the entire nut so I don't have to deal with finding damaged nuts on the cleaning table.
    Peruque is not the only cultivar that seems to attract woodpeckers. Other thin-shelled pecans like Pawnee, Mohawk, Maramec, Shoshoni and Creek suffer their fair share of  bird pecks. Peruque stands out as super-susceptible to bird attack because it ripens so much earlier than other cultivars in the orchard. We have all heard the phrase, "the early bird catches the worm", but when talking Peruque pecans the phrase should be-- "the early pecan feeds the bird".