Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Graft hickories on pecan

    There is a small but dedicated group of hickory and hican lovers around the country. This post is for them.
    I went out to our 'Wilson' hican tree this morning to collect a nut sample. This tree is loaded with nuts this year but what caught my attention was the graft union. We grafted this 'Wilson' hican onto a pecan tree that had previously been grafted to 'Major'. The hican graft was placed about 6 feet up the trunk and is now about 12 inches in diameter. In the photo at left,  the change above and below the graft union is dramatic. Below the graft is the typical checkered bark seen on any 'Major' tree. Above the graft is the smooth gray bark typical of a young shellbark hickory (the hican is a cross of shellbark hickory and pecan). Also note that the pecan portion of the trunk is starting to show its faster growth rate as compared to the hican. This is why I always recommend that hickory lovers graft their trees onto pecan rootstock. The pecan roots outgrow the hickory and seem to push the hickory to grow faster and bear nuts earlier. The 'Wilson' hican is among the best of the hicans I have seen. The tree bears a huge crop ever other year and the nuts are generally well filled averaging 38% kernel. The nut kernel has a somewhat bland flavor closer in taste to its shellbark hickory parent.