Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Deep freeze ends pecan growing season

    The temperature dropped to 18 F early this morning representing this Fall's first killing freeze. When I arrived at the pecan grove, leaves were dropping from the trees so fast they quickly covered the bed of my truck. Its impossible to capture the sights and sounds of such a quick leaf drop with a still photograph but I hope you can see the leaves raining down in the photo above (click on photo to enlarge).

    Last week I wrote about cultivars differences in preparing for dormancy.  By the time the freeze hit today, the cultivars I photographed with yellow leaves last week had already lost their leaves by this week (ie. Greenriver and Kanza). Stuart, on the other hand, was still holding on to green foliage as of yesterday. By one o'clock today, the ground under our Stuart trees was littered with green leaves knocked off the tree by cold temperatures (photo above, left).

    Looking up into the Stuart tree, I found the green shucks had frozen and taken on a water-soaked brown appearance (photo at right). Starting today, the green shucks of Stuart or any other pecan that still had split green shucks will begin to dry, turn dark brown, and pull away from the nut.  Late ripening cultivars that had not begun the split shuck process by today will remain firmly enclosed within a blackened shuck; a condition commonly called stick-tights.
     Let the harvest begin!