Friday, September 11, 2015

Pecan crop advancing towards shuck split

 This week, I drove through our field trials to check our earliest ripening pecan cultivars for signs of shuck split. Every year the order of ripening among cultivars is a little different and this year was no exception. The photo above shows four cultivars that had nuts completely separated from their shucks on September 10th. SWB617 and Henning were not only fully loose in the shuck but some of the shucks had started to open (see photos at the bottom of this post). In contrast,  I had to use a knife to remove the shucks on Warren 346 and Canton and did not find any nuts on the trees with split shucks. This photo also reveals that all four of these early-ripening cultivars needed additional drying time to develop their full shell color.

    This next group of four early-ripening cultivars had shucks that had separated from the nut's shell but required varying degrees of force to remove the shuck (photo above, right). Lucas was fully loose in the shuck and was similar to Warren 346 and Canton in terms of shuck dehiscence.
    Even though I was able to cut the shuck off the Mullahy nut, shuck was still tightly attached at the very base. Osage and Peruque had started the shuck separation process but the white coloration of the shell indicates these nuts have only recently separated from their shucks.

 This last group of cultivars (photo at right) illustrate the very early stages of shuck separation. The Shepherd nut was about 3/4 separated from the shuck while James and Colby had only just begun the process at the very tip of the nut. Like the nut filling process, shuck dehiscence starts at the apex of the nut and works it way down to the base.

   This is the first year I have caught SWB617 at the point of 50% shuck split (Photo at left). I knew this seedling ripened early but I never got around to actually seeing how early. Even though this seedling is mildly susceptible to pecan scab, the extreme earliness of SWB617 makes this a special tree to watch.

    Historically, Henning has been the earliest ripening cultivar in our trials (Photo at left). On September 10th, Henning was about 10% shuck split. Our Henning trees are located near the boundary of our research station. By next week, I better get a nut sample collected before the squirrels harvest every last Henning on the farm.