Saturday, January 24, 2015

Similar but different: Pawnee, Faith, and Gardner

    We have three pecan cultivars growing at the Pecan Experiment Field that are so similar they are hard to tell apart. Look at the photo at right. Pawnee, Faith and Gardner nuts have the same basic shell appearance with all three nuts sharing a similar apex shape. However, a closer look reveals some differences. On average, Faith nuts are slightly smaller than Pawnee. Gardner is also smaller than Pawnee and the nut is rounder in cross section. Handle a Gardner nut and you'll find the nuts are not a flat as Pawnee or Faith nuts.

    Inside the shells of these three cultivars you will find kernels that also look very similar (photo at left). Pawnee, Faith, and Gardner all yield over 57% kernel and produce quality kernels. Look carefully at all three cultivars and you will see the same light brown mottling on the surface of the kernels. However, this slight kernel discoloration doesn't seem to deter brisk sales for these nuts.
    The rounder shell shape of the Gardner pecan is also reflected in the shape of the kernel. Gardner kernel halves are narrower but thicker than Pawnee and Faith.
     Pawnee is a USDA cultivar created by crossing Mohawk with Starking Hardy Giant. Faith originated from an open pollinated Mohawk seed planted in Arkansas City, KS. Gardner was found as a roadside tree of unknown origin and growing in Gardner, KS.