Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shepherd pecan

    Back in the 1970's, Jerrell Shepherd had a vision to create a pecan orchard in mid-Missouri near Clifton Hill. The only problem was that his orchard would be on the extreme northern edge of the pecan tree's natural range. He soon discovered that cultivar selection, for pecans that would be adapted to his location, was very limited. Faced with limited choices, Jerrell set out across mid-Missouri on a quest to find  the best native pecans for propagation into his orchard. On a nearby farm, Jerrell was shown an exceptional native tree (nuts pictured above) that would later become known as the cultivar, Shepherd. (Jerrell actually purchased the tree in order to ensure a scionwood supply for his own trees.)
    Today, Jerrell's son, Dan owns and operates the 200 acre Shepherd Farms pecan orchard that features Shepherd as one of  the major cultivars propagated on the farm. Dan likes the Shepherd pecan in his orchard because it yields consistently, has good scab resistance, and shells well in his Quantz cracker.
    At our recent Kansas Nut Growers Meeting, Dr. Ken Hunt from the University of Missouri spoke on pecan cultivar performance at the Agroforestry Research Center near New Franklin, MO. In his trials, Shepherd  has turned out to be among the top five cultivars under test. Ken specifically pointed out that scab resistance was the leading reason he would propagate Shepherd.
    Here's what we know about Shepherd from trials conducted at the Pecan Experiment Field.
                            Average Nut Wt. (2010):  6.39 g
                               Percent Kernel (2010):  53.01%
                                         Flowering Type:   protandrous (type 1)
                             Average Ripening Date:   3 days before Colby (very early)
                                                  Precocity:   slow to bearing (similar to Major)
                                         Cold Hardiness:   very hardy