Monday, August 27, 2012

Building pecan kernel? Just add water.

    Last Friday I cut open pecans to see how crop load and drought interact to affect kernel filling. If you recall that post, I discovered that trees with heavy crop loads were way behind in terms of kernel fill. Well, a lot has changed in just 72 hours. We received 1.70 inches of rain over a 2 day period (Sat. & Sun.) with every drop soaking into the soil. The result has be an explosion of kernel filling. This morning I collected nuts from the same trees as before and cut them to inspect kernel fill. In the photo above, the 2 nuts on the left side are from a light bearing Giles tree (28% fruiting shoots) while the 2 nuts on the right are from a tree holding a good crop load (60% fruiting shoots). The 2 nuts on the top row were cut on Friday while the 2 nuts below where cut today (Monday).  The amount of kernel packed into nuts from both trees has increased over the weekend. However, the rapid development of kernel in the tree bearing a good crop (60% fruiting shoots) is truly amazing. Unlike last week, there is now only a slight difference in kernel filling due to crop load. 

    Now lets look at pecans cut from Chetopa pecan trees. For this cultivar, I selected a tree with 46% fruiting shoots and compared to a heavily bearing tree (76% fruiting shoots). This past weekend's rain storm promoted rapid kernel development in nuts from both trees. However, the nut from the heavily loaded tree is still struggling to fill out the kernel. Note that kernel near the inner wall partition is not as well developed as the kernel located adjacent to the outer shell. With 76% fruiting shoots, this tree may have too many nuts on the tree to ever get 100% kernel development.
     With more rain forecast this coming weekend, it looks like we should expect good for kernel quality for the 2012 Kansas pecan crop.