Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Selections from the breeding block

   This past fall, we collected over 400 nut samples from our pecan breeding block. Now, in the dead of winter, we've begun to crack out those samples. Many of the nuts we've cracked revealed mediocre nut quality or the pecans that are so small that we can mark the trees that produced them to be cut for firewood. However, a quick look through the samples revealed some pretty awesome looking kernels. I grabbed four samples with bright, plump kernels just to give you an idea of the variation we are seeing among some of the better quality nuts (photo above). Below is a table that gives some of the details of these four seedlings.

   You'll note that Pawnee is a parent to all four seedlings (male parent for three of the seedlings and female parent for the open pollinated seedling). Two of the nuts had Major as the female parent, while one had a Greenriver mother. All four of these seedlings ripened before or at the same time as Pawnee (Oct. 8 in 2013).
   There are other seedlings in our collection that have outstanding nut quality. If you attend the annual meetings of the Nut Growers Associations of KS, MO, and IL this year you'll be able to see some of the better nuts from our breeding block on display. But a word of caution.  It will take several more years of evaluation before we are ready to send out scionwood for advanced testing by growers. We still need to evaluate each seedling for disease susceptibility, cold hardiness, nut bearing potential and tendency towards alternate bearing. It is so easy to fall in love with a pecan that produces a beautiful kernels. But, the history of pecan cultivar development is full of examples of cultivars that looked good as young trees only to turn out to be a grower's nightmare.