Saturday, February 22, 2020

Cutting pecan scions

   Over this past week, I've been outside cutting pecan scionwood in preparation for this Spring's grafting season. The photo at right is a Lakota tree that I pruned heavily during the early spring of 2019. Now, after a year of regrowth, this tree has produced numerous long, straight shoots that will make outstanding scions.  
    It took a while, but I cut off every one-year-old shoot from this tree. Some of the shoots were 5 feet long and much too large in diameter to create good scions. However, cutting the tree back again this year will ensure a good supply of scions for 2021.
   After dropping all the one-year-old shoots to the ground, I gathered them into my utility vehicle (photo at left) and hauled them into the barn to cut the wood into usable scions.  In cutting the wood down to size, I try to create scions with at least 3 buds. Scion diameter  ranges from 1/4 to 5/8 inch. I discard the wood that is either too small or too large in diameter.
    As I cut up the shoots, I place the completed scions in a plastic storage box (photo at right). The bottom of plastic box is lined with dampened paper towel to help maintain 100% humidity inside the box during refrigerated storage. Once I fill the box with scions, I cover the wood with another layer of moist paper towels before snapping the lid on tight. I store my scions at 34 degrees F in a refrigerator. Every couple of weeks, I check the paper towel to make sure it is still moist so the wood doesn't dry out during storage.
    If you look carefully at the Lakota tree pictured at left, you will note that I left a 2-3 bud stub at each location I cut a one-year-old shoot. I did this to help promote the growth of 2 or 3 new shoots to replace the one shoot I removed. This should help create even more scions for the 2021 growing season.