Monday, September 19, 2011

September rain fills kernels

    Over the weekend, 3.5 inches of rain fell in the Chetopa, KS area. Its been so long since I've heard the sound of raindrops on the roof, I could hardly sleep. It is amazing how drought stressed plants react to a sudden supply of water.  In my wife's apple orchard, the rain was welcomed but has lead to a massive amount of fruit cracking (photo above right). As soon as the roots started pumping water from the water soaked soil into the tree, the fruit started to swell in size. Since the fruit's skin couldn't grow fast enough in response to the rapid fruit growth, pop, the skin cracked open.

Lakota, 14 Sept. 2011
    So this morning, it was time to see how the rain  influenced our pecan crop. At left is the cross section of a Lakota nut that I posted last Wednesday (Sept. 14).  In that post, I mentioned that Lakota was still depositing kernel but if rains didn't fall soon, nut quality would be poor. Well the rains came, but was it enough to make an impact on kernel fill?
Lakota, 19 Sept. 2011


    Here's a cross section of Lakota today, Sept 19, two days after a major rain event. Wow, what a difference. This Lakota nut is now packed with kernel. Notice that all the voids have been filled with nut meat.
     Just like the apple pictured above, pecans can also suffer fruit cracking. Late rains can swell the kernel up so much that it pops open the shell and splits the shuck. This can lead to kernel rot and ultimately crop losses. However, we are so late in the season, I don't expect to see a lot of shuck splitting. I'm just hoping for better kernel fill over the entire grove.