Saturday, December 13, 2014

One branch sums up the 2014 growing season

     Recently, I cut a single limb from an Osage tree that seemed to sum up the entire 2014 pecan growing season (photo above). First, let me tell you what all those letters in the photo mean.
     VS= vegetative shoot
        F= buds frozen by a late spring frost on April 15, 2014
        P= pedicle from the 2013 nut crop
     FS= fruiting shoot

    We harvested a good crop of nuts during the fall of 2013. Judging from the fruiting scars on the pedicle (the portion of the stem that supports a cluster of nuts) this shoot bore three nuts in 2013. When spring rolled around buds started to swell but were frozen by a late spring freeze. The remnants of two buds frozen buds are still firmly attached to the stem. After the freeze, two dormant buds lower on the one-year-old branch broke and started to grow.        
    As these two new shoots grew out in the spring, only one of the shoots produced a pistillate flower cluster. The bud that broke from the lowest portion of the one-year-old stem remained vegetative. This is fairly typical for pecan. The oldest buds (lowest on the stem) on last year's wood have the least potential to produce female flowers.
    When we harvested the 2014 crop, we collected about half as many nuts as we harvested in 2013. Judging from what we can see on this single branch the reasons for lower yields in 2014 become clear.