Friday, November 7, 2014

Without a kernel inside, pecan shucks don't open.

    The Kanza cluster, pictured at right, contained four pecans. Three nuts had wide open shucks with pecans ready to fall from the tree. The fourth nut had a shuck that was still tightly closed and showed no sign of splitting open. In a previous post, I mentioned that a pecan weevil infestation can cause the shuck to remained firmly attached to the nut. However, in this case, there was no indication of weevil activity. Was this one nut just slow to open up or had something gone wrong inside the nut?   

   In the photo at left, you can clearly see that three nuts had normally split shucks while the fourth was still bound inside a closed shuck. The nuts emerging from split-open shucks had developed their normal shell color and were packed with kernel (note nuts cut in cross-section at the bottom of the photo).
    It took a little effort, but I could force the tightly held shuck off  the fourth nut. The shell inside had not yet developed normal shell color and I found a paper thin remnant of a pecan kernel inside.
   Back in August, the development of  kernel inside the stick-tight nut stopped during the water stage and a normal kernel never developed. Without a developing seed inside the shell, ripening hormones are not produced in the fall and the shuck does not open.