Monday, April 2, 2012

Juvenile vs mature budbreak in pecan

    Take a close look at the seedling pecan tree in the photo above. Note that you can see obvious signs of new growth in the upper half of the tree's canopy while the lower half looks dormant. What you are actually seeing is the difference between juvenile growth (lower half) and mature growth (upper half).  Buds on mature limbs seem to break earlier than buds on juvenile limbs.  Mature limbs will produce catkins and pistillate flowers while juvenile limbs produce only vegetative growth.  This tree has a protandrous flowering habit and you can even see clusters of catkins already forming in the upper half of the tree (click on photo for closer look).
      This photo is a good reminder of why we graft pecan trees. The seedling tree in the photo above is 8 inches in diameter and only just starting to come into bearing. By grafting with scions cut from mature growth, we can promote nut production much earlier in the tree's life.  Eight inch diameter Kanza trees can bear at the rate of over 1000 lbs/acre.