Thursday, December 14, 2017

Pecan shelling quaility: Genetic links

Kanza 2017
    One of the reasons Kanza has become a popular pecan cultivar among consumers is that it shells out so well.  After cracking Kanza nuts in a mechanical cracker then blowing out the shells with a single stage air leg, Kanza yields a high percentage of free kernel halves (photo above). Once all the free halves are separated out, it is very easy to remove attached shell fragments to extract the rest of the kernels.

Major 2017
     I've been cracking several cultivars in my Savage air-cracker and have come to the conclusion that the shelling quality of Kanza nuts is probably inherited from its Major parent (Kanza resulted from a cross of Shoshoni and Major). The photo above shows a sample of Major nut processed using the same equipment I used to crack my Kanza crop.  Even with a thicker shell, Major nuts crack out cleanly producing a large number of free halves. This got me thinking.

USDA 64-4-2
    I grabbed a sample of  USDA 64-4-2  which originated from a cross of Choctaw and Major. Cracking and blowing this sample yielded a high percentage of free halves. Nuts of 64-4-2 are not as round as Major or Kanza but the shelling quality was impressive.   

    Next, I cracked a sample KT143, a  selection from my breeding project that originated from a cross of Pawnee and Major. Once again, I found excellent shelling quality.
    Kanza, USDA 64-4-2, and KT143 share one thing in common. All three cultivars have Major as their female parent. And after looking at my cracked sample of Major, I'm convinced it is Major parentage that makes these pecan cultivars such good crackers. I'm also convinced that producing pecan cultivars that are easy to shell will make my customers for cracked pecans very happy and willing to pay a premium these nuts.