thinning plan to remove a portion of the trees in this orchard to allow the remaining trees more room to grow. We took a progressive approach to thinning the orchard. We removed trees gradually, several each year, in areas where trees were beginning to crowd.
This Fall, when I walked out to the Kanza orchard to check on tree spacing, I noticed that most areas that have not been thinned yet had limbs that were beginning to touch (photo at right). Following the 2016 harvest season we will be taking out more trees, this time more trees than we had in previous years.
Monday, October 31, 2016
Sunday, October 30, 2016
However, the forecast for the first week of November does not include any freezing temperatures.
I like to wait until all the shucks are open and the nuts are fully dry before I start shaking Kanza. By waiting, I can shake once and get the entire crop on the ground at one time.
Monday, October 24, 2016
My main concern was to make sure the harvester would pick pecans the way we designed the machine (photo above). As many growers have seen during field days, we have modified our 8090 Nuthustler pecan harvester by making major changes to the drive line, nut elevator system, cross auger, and cleaning chamber. We even added a sweeper wheel to the harvester. This year we replaced the conveyor chain inside the machine. Rather than use the webbed chain as provided by the manufacturer, we inserted what is known as welded selvage belting in its place. We are hoping the selvage belt will last longer than the original chain and help sift out some of the dirt picked up by the harvester.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
The date a pecan cultivar splits its shuck is an important indicator of how well that cultivar is adapted to the climate at a particular location. However, pecan maturation does not stop at shuck split. A pecan does not become fully mature and achieve full flavor until the kernel dries down to under 12% moisture. To demonstrate how pecan kernels change as they dry, I harvested some Stuart and Kanza nuts (photo above). The Stuart nuts were loose in the shuck but the shuck had yet to split open. The nuts inside the Stuart shucks are still at their maximum moisture content. Kanza nuts split shuck 3 weeks ago and the nuts inside have begun to dry down.
The obvious difference between these two cultivars was kernel color and appearance. The high moisture Stuart nut was white and covered in brown fuzz. The shell packing material in the dorsal groves was a sticky mess. The Kanza kernel appeared to have normal color and the packing material fell free of the kernel.
Looking at these two pecan cultivars gives us a pretty good idea of how pecan kernels mature after shuck-split. The drying process helps the kernel separate from the shell and all internal packing material. The outside of the kernel dries to a golden brown color. Full pecan flavor is achieved only when kernels dry down to less than 12% moisture.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
In the past, many growers have asked how I handle the fertilization of young trees. As the photo above shows, my approach has been to use conventional fertilizer spreading equipment to cover the entire orchard floor with fertilizer. Even though the trees look small on top, these 4 to 6 inch diameter trees have root systems that extend outwards twice the height of the tree. By spreading the fertilizer over the entire grove, I hope to encourage additional lateral root growth to help the tree be even more efficient in mining the soil for water and nutrients.
Of course, the added nitrogen will also stimulate the ground cover to grow like crazy. But the way I look it, I'm actually growing a green manure crop right in the orchard. Every time I mow the ground cover, I'm adding tons of organic matter back to the soil. Soil organic matter helps build soil structure, improves water availability, and makes micro-nutrients (including zinc) more available to the tree.
Monday, October 17, 2016
|Giles, 17 Oct. 2106|
Note that Giles, Chetopa, Maramec, Caddo, and Dooley have scab lesions on their shucks. Scab has reduced nut size and prevented normal shuck-split of Dooley especially. Greenriver, Lakota, Oswego, and Oconee are scab free.
|Chetopa, 17 Oct. 2106|
|Greenriver, 17 Oct. 2016|
|Lakota, 17 Oct. 2106|
|Oswego, 17 Oct. 2106|
|Maramec, 17 Oct. 2016|
|Caddo, 17 Oct. 2016|
|Dooley, 17 Oct. 2016|
|Oconee, 17 Oct. 2016|
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Friday, October 7, 2016
This week, parts of SE Kansas received over 12 inches of rain in a 3 day period. The Neosho quickly filled and has now spilled over it banks, flooding both the Pecan Experiment Field and surrounding native groves (photo above). The National Weather Service is predicting only a moderate flooding event that should last about three and a half days. Fortunately, we had not yet made our regular Fall fertilizer application. If we had spread nitrogen on the grove earlier this week, it would have ended up down in Grand Lake instead of helping our trees. After the flood waters recede and the orchard floor dries up, I'll be checking the weather forecast closely to choose the best time to spread some fertilizer later this month.
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
|Major, 4 Oct 2016|
The shucks of a Major nut split along the suture lines but hardly open up (photo at right). It will take a hard freeze to kill the green shucks before Major nuts are released from the tree.
|Jayhawk, 4 Oct 2016|
Jayhawk and Yates both yield well but their kernels have major defects. Jayhawk kernels are often mottled with light brown spots over the straw-colored nut meats. Yates 68 kernels turn dark quickly after harvest in a fashion similar to Posey.
|Yates 68, 4 Oct 2016|
Monday, October 3, 2016
summer tree shaking this cultivar as a method to reduce the excessive crop load. Unfortunately, summer shaking does not work well with this clone. In the photo above-left, note that the nut crop is held on the ends of long slender shoots. During a summer shake, these limbs just dance around and very few nuts are dislodged.
The problem with over production becomes evident at harvest. For the photo above, I cut open three nuts pulled from the USDA 75-8-5 tree and compared them to three nuts harvested from a nearby Kanza tree. Both these cultivars ripened at about the same time but the cross-sections of the USDA 75-8-5 nuts reveals the impact excessive cropping has had on kernel fill. The USDA clone has thin kernels, lots of internal air pockets and the kernel was unable to fully compress the partition between kernel halves. But the real troubles will come this winter and next year. 75-8-5 has set itself up to be damaged by cold winter temperatures. If not damaged by cold, the tree will be unable to set a full crop of pistillate flowers next spring.
The moral of this story is that heavy nut yield at a young age usually precedes a future of alternate bearing and cold injury. In testing new cultivars, I look for a tree to start bearing early but to build yield slowly always maintaining excellent kernel quality.