Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Can curly grain pecan wood be grafted?

    It seems like I've been waiting forever to be able to work in my pecan grove this Spring. Above average rainfall for the month of March has meant that even now, in early April, the grove has just too many wet spots.  However, I have plenty of shop projects to keep me busy.
   Just before I retired from K-State, we removed a large Osage tree that had serious trunk damage. Instead of throwing the log on a brush pile to burn, I had the trunk sawed up into lumber. I was anxious to learn how the graft union would appear in the wood's grain. I let the wood air dry for 2 years then started to mill the rough cut lumber. What appeared in the wood grain was amazing (photo below).

    There was a distinctive line across the wood that marked the location of the graft union. Wood color between the seedling rootstock and Osage scion was obviously different but what stood out to me was the curly grain pattern visible in the Osage wood (horizontal stripes). You will note that the curly grain is present only on the left side of the board. This side of the board is quarter sawn, meaning the growth rings are at a right angle to the face of the board. 
   Figured or curly grained wood is highly prized for making custom furniture projects. This board will be made into a hall table but I'll be leaving the graft union right in the middle of the table top.  That will give me the chance to talk about the art of pecan tree grafting all while bragging about my woodworking skills.

Curly Grain in pecan wood

   This is the first piece of pecan lumber that I have noticed a curly grain pattern in the wood. Do trees grafted to Osage always make curly grained wood? Or is this just a lucky find on my part? That's a question that will take 30-40 years to answer. For now I'll just enjoy the wood.