Monday, December 30, 2019

Giving pecan trees room to grow

   To maintain good nut production, pecan trees need plenty of room to grow and develop a full canopy. When I established my pecan breeding block, I planted trees far closer than normally recommended to allow for the evaluation and selection of new cultivars. As the trees started to produce nuts, I started to remove trees that produced small nuts or displayed poor resistance to pecan scab disease. This project started with over 800 trees but currently, I've already removed 90% of the original trees.
     This winter, I'm back thinning out more trees (photo at right). At this point in the project, my tree removal objective is to make certain that trees that have the greatest potential to become new cultivars have plenty of room to expand their canopies. The trees in the photo were growing only 20 feet apart within the row (row spacing = 40 feet)  with adjacent canopies shading each other. After tree thinning,  the remaining trees will be spaced 40 feet by 40 feet.

      The photo at left is an example of the nuts produced by one of my selections that I have made a priority for ensuring adequate tree spacing. In fact, tree KT334 is pictured above as the first tree in the row at the left side of the photo. Now that KT334 has a more normal tree spacing, I'll be able to get a better feel for its production potential.