Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pecan kernel cracks open shell

   The rain we received in mid September has saved this year's pecan crop from drought-induced, total disaster. Last week, I wrote that the September showers promoted kernel filling and the prospects for quality pecan kernels look so much better. But, I also warned that a sudden rainfall after a prolonged dry period can lead to shell splitting (photo at left).
   At this point, I haven't seen a lot of shell splitting. I actually had to search a while to find this Henning nut (at left). What happened to this nut is exactly what it look likes. The kernel expanded so much following the rain that the shell burst open. Note that the shell split, not only along the suture, but also laterally near the base of the nut.
    Nut splitting can lead to serious kernel quality problems. Notice the black spot (with white center) on the kernel near the tip of the nut. A kernel rotting fungus has already attacked the exposed kernel.  As this nut dries before harvest, the kernel will shrink and the shell will close up, hiding the kernel rot.  Only after cracking a sample of our 2011 crop,  will we discover the amount of damage caused by nut splitting and kernel rot. Oh, how I hate surprises at the grading table.