Sunday, September 29, 2019

Cultivars spliting shuck during late September

Kanza, 27 Sept. 2019
     During the final week of September several pecan cultivars ripened on my farm including two currently popular pecans; Kanza and Hark. During the week, I photographed pecan cultivars as they split their shucks. Those pictures and the date each photo was taken appear on this post. I also included a few of the better selections from my breeding program.

Gardner, 25 Sept. 2019
Hark, 27 Sept. 2019
     Gardner split shuck about the same time it always ripens--late September. However, my Kanza and Hark trees have ripened about one week earlier than normal (typically, Kanza and Hark ripen in early October).  While recording data in my pecan breeding plot, I'm finding that some trees are ripening right in line with their 3 year average while other a significantly earlier than their average. I'm sure there is a good reason for what I'm observing but most likely its just variation in cultivar response to this year's crazy weather.

KT114, 27 Sept. 2019
KT149, 27 Sept. 2019
KT307, 25 Sept. 2019


Monday, September 23, 2019

Pecans that split shuck on the first day of Fall.

    Today was the first day of Fall. I even saw a flock of geese fly overhead on their annual trip south. I spent the good part of today collecting nut samples from pecan cultivar have have split shuck since the last time I checked. I also photographed those newly opened cultivars. The photos appear below.

Faith, 23 Sept 2019
Jayhawk, 23 Sept 2019
USDA 61-1-X, 23 Sept 2019

    Thirteen selections from my breeding project also opened today. Below are a few of my favorites.

KT129, 23 Sept 2019
KT143, 23 Sept 2019
KT255, 23 Sept 2019
KT316, 23 Sept 2019

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Judging the date of shuck-split

   Every fall, I look forward to recording the date of shuck-split for each of the pecan cultivars and breeding selections growing on my farm.  Three times per week, I stop by every tree and take a close look at nut production, nut size and fill, and judge the progress of shuck-split. Once the tree achieves shuck-split, I collect a nut sample to be evaluated after I've completed my commercial harvest.
   On any one tree, the process of shuck opening does not happen all at one time. Today, while examining trees in my breeding, I came to tree KT214. The photo at right show a cluster of KT214 has split shuck.   
    However, as I looked over the entire tree I found that most KT214 nuts had not yet split (photo at left).  Whenever I record the date of shuck-split, I am actually judging the date when at least 50% of the nuts on a tree have split shucks. In the case of the KT214 tree, only a hand full of clusters had split shucks, so I will not record today as the date of shuck-split. That important date will probably be this Friday or next Monday.

KT674 16 Sept. 2019 
KT415 18 Sept. 2019
    Shuck-split is just starting in my breeding plot. Since most seedlings in the trial are the results of crosses between a northern cultivar and Pawnee, the ripening dates for these trees tend to be early with the majority splitting shuck during the last week of September or the first week of October. However, since my last post, two additional trees in the breeding plot have split shuck: KT674 and KT415 (photos above).

Friday, September 13, 2019

First nuts to shuck-split in 2019

KT337 13 Sept. 2019
     Wow, that was fast! In my last post, I presented a photo of the earliest ripening tree in my breeding project. On Sept 7th, the shuck of KT337 was only half way separated from the shell. Today, only 6 days later, the shucks of KT337 were opening (photo at right).
   This early ripening date caught me by surprise. I was expecting this tree to open sometime next week, not today. I went back into the records for this tree and found that KT337 ripened on Sept. 19 in 2016, Sept. 20 in 2017, and Sept. 17 in 2018.
    Now I'm wondering if other pecan trees will split their shucks earlier than normal. I'm sure to find out shortly. For the next 4 to 5 weeks, I'll be checking trees 3 times each week to record each cultivar's ripening date. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Checking pecan nut development

    We finally got a stretch of dry weather this week, allowing me to move freely in the orchard without getting mired in mud.  My first stop was to check on the development of the earliest ripening tree in the pecan breeding block. I pulled a nut from tree KT337 and cut into the shuck near the apex to test for separation between shuck and shell (photo at right). As you can see in the photo, the shell has started to develop its characteristic black shell markings. The shuck could be easily separated from the shell on the upper half of the nut but was still firmly attached at the base. Last year, KT337 shuck split on Sept 17th (ten days from now). This year, it will split early compared to other pecan cultivars, but the date of shuck split for 2019 will probably be closer to Sept. 20.

    I also cut some nuts to check on kernel development. By early September, all cultivars adapted to growing in our climate should have well defined kernels inside the shell. The photo at left is a nut harvested from KT316. The average ripening date for this tree is the 23rd of Sept. Although the kernel inside the shell looks fully formed, the kernel is still expanding and pressing against the shell and inner wall partition. As the pressure builds, the packing material will become hard, brittle and turn a reddish brown color. Currently, the thickness of the inner wall partition and its orange coloration tells me that this pecan is still packing in more kernel.
   Fortunately, the sun is shinning, temperatures are warm, and the trees have plenty of soil moisture. These are all great conditions for developing maximun amounts of pecan kernel.