Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Today, I collected a few Pawnee nuts from trees at the old Pecan Field Station. In previous years, I reduced the crop load of overloaded Pawnee trees by using a trunk shaker. Now that I've retired from the University, the field station has been abandoned and Pawnee was allowed to over-produce in 2018.
I collected Pawnee nuts from two areas. The first was a mature orchard with nuts hanging from every terminal. Prior to 2018, these mature Pawnee trees received a good summer shake every year they loaded up with nuts. The second spot was in a young orchard, just starting to produce nuts. Like all young pecan trees, these Pawnee trees had not reached the age when over-cropping becomes a problem. The young tree produced normal-sized Pawnee nuts while the over-loaded trees produced much smaller nuts (photo above). When I held those smaller nuts in my hands I could already tell the kernels inside were going to be shriveled.
As I suspected, the kernels produced by the over-loaded Pawnee trees were smaller, poorly filled, and even darker in color. The two kernels on the far right in the photo above were so paper thin that they would be inedible.
Pawnee is a cultivar that requires a high level of care but when treated right can produce beautiful pecans. Growing Pawnee profitably means adopting a good scab control program and shaking off nuts during the years when the trees set an over-abundant crop.
Thursday, November 22, 2018
|Harvesting native pecans near Chetopa, KS|
Thanksgiving is an American Holiday with a long tradition of family gatherings and roast turkey dinners. But here in pecan country, today's bright sunshine and dry soil conditions makes it the perfect day to pick pecans. By mid-morning, I could hear the familiar drone of pecan harvesters working in the native groves near my farm. I took a quick drive around the area and found that every grower was celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday the same way, by picking pecans. I can't think of a better way celebrate the fall harvest season.
Sunday, November 18, 2018
At shuck split, I collected at least 25 nuts from each tree. I let these nuts air dry for several weeks then began the process of measuring, weighing, and cracking nuts.
In addition to the hard numbers that I record on nut size, weight and percent kernel, I take notes on kernel color, ease of extracting full halves, adherence of shell packing material, and any glaring kernel defects.
As I collect this information year after year, I should be able to recognize those trees that produce quality pecans every year. Hopefully, that will lead to some new cultivars.
Saturday, November 10, 2018
|Kanza nuts right after a deep freeze|
Wednesday, November 7, 2018
This fall I have been taking a closer look at the performance of Hark as it compares to Kanza. Earlier this Fall I collected a nut sample from a Hark tree and an adjacent Kanza tree. I weighed out these samples and cracked the nuts to determine percent kernel.
As you can see in the photo above, Hark produces a nut that is slightly larger than Kanza. The shell markings on the Hark nut are very similar to its Major parent. Both Major and Hark shells are covered with many small black speckles. In contrast, the Kanza nut shell is light colored and has few black markings. Even though Kanza has Major parentage the shell of Kanza is more reminisent of its other parent, Shoshoni.
This year my Hark nuts yielded more percent kernel than my Kanza nuts (photo above). Hark kernels also appeared larger. However, Kanza kernels were lighter in color and appeared more attractive than the Hark kernels. For the first time, I noticed that the dorsal grooves on Hark kernels are narrow and can trap packing material. In fact, if you look closely at the left dorsal groove of the left Hark kernel you'll see some trapped packing material.
Even though Kanza still remains my favorite cultivar, I plan to graft more Hark into my orchard. Hark is scab resistant and a good pollinator for Kanza.