Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Pecan cultivars that ripened in October

Jayhawk, 4 Oct. 2023  

      In my area of Kansas, pecan cultivars must ripen by mid-October to reliably split open their shucks before the first killing freeze in the Fall. Pictured here are some of the cultivars that ripened during the first 2 weeks of October in my orchard.

Shepherd, 6 Oct. 2023

KT330, 6 Oct. 2023

Labette, 9 Oct. 2023

St. Paul, 13 Oct. 2023


    Jayhawk -- an open-pollinated seedling of Giles

    Shepherd -- a native seedling from Central Missouri

    KT330 -- a selection from my breeding project. The result of a cross of Pawnee and                                 Greenriver.

    Labette -- tested as KT334 from my breeding project. A cross of Pawnee and Greenriver. 

    St. Paul -- tested as KT201 from my breeding project. A cross of Pawnee and Major.


Monday, October 2, 2023

Pecan cultivars continue to ripen as we head into October


Kanza, 2 Oct. 2023
  This year I recorded October 2nd as the ripening date for Kanza. My Kanza trees have produced an excellent crop this year as you can tell by the photo at right. When Kanza first splits open, the shucks hardly open up. All you will see is a slight crack between shuck quarters. During most years, it is a killing freeze that finally kills the green husk and allows Kanza nuts to fall free at tree shaking. 

   I found several other pecan cultivars that ripened at the same time as Kanza. Their photos appear below.

Hark, 2 Oct. 2023

Pleasanton, 2 Oct. 2023

Yates 68, 29 Sept. 2023

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Cultivars that ripen on the same day as Pawnee

Pawnee, 27 Sept. 2023.
     Pawnee is one of the most popular pecan cultivars adapted to short season climates (photo at right). Large nut size and early ripening are the main positive cultivar characteristics for Pawnee. Severe susceptibility to pecan scan disease is the primary production drawback.

     Since Pawnee is so widely known by pecan growers across the nation, I think it is important to look at a few other cultivars that ripened on the same day as Pawnee (photos below) This year, my Pawnee trees split shuck on 27 Sept. 2023.

Gardner, 27 Sept. 2023

Waccamaw, 27 Sept. 2023

Cultivar Notes:

1. Gardner was found as a chance seedling in Gardner Kansas. This cultivar is very similar in size and appearance to Pawnee but I prefer the nut quality of Gardner over Pawnee. Gardner is susceptible to pecan scab but is not as severely effected as Pawnee.

2. Waccamaw originated as a chance seedling grown in Golden City, MO. Waccamaw nuts are similar in size to Pawnee. I'm still evaluating this cultivar for its reaction to the pecan scab fungus.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Pecan shuck split dates for of early ripening cultivars

     This fall, timely rain showers have helped pop open pecan shucks on a more normal schedule. Over the past week,  I've been photographing each cultivar on the day I find at least 50% of nut shucks on the tree split open. Below you will find photos of named cultivars, USDA advanced selections, and a few numbered selections from my breeding project. 


Caney, 22 Sept. 2023

USDA 92-2-148, 22 Sept. 2023

KT121, 22 Sept. 2023

Liberty, 23 Sept. 2023

USDA 61-1-X, 23 Sept. 2023

Thayer, 25 Sept. 2023

KT307, 25 Sept. 2023

Notes on cultivars shown above:

1) Caney, Liberty, and Thayer are cultivars I've named from my pecan breeding project. Caney was tested as KT129, Liberty was tested as KT316, and Thayer was tested as KT255.

2) the two USDA clones have not been named and may never be given names. 

3) the clones KT121 and KT307 are from my breeding project. At this point, I'm still evaluating them but they look promising. All of my breeding selections are labeled starting with KT which is simply short for Kansas Tree.  The numbers denote the row and tree number in my pecan breeding block.

4) I've decided to name all my pecan cultivars in honor of small rural towns located in SE Kansas.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Strong thunderstorms roll through the area

      During the summers of 2022 and 2023 we suffered through extremely dry conditions in our area. However, last night we finally received some much needed relief. This morning I dumped 2.98 inches of water out of my rain gauge. Unfortunately, the strong thunderstorms that brought us the rain also came with extremely strong winds. Besides waking up to rain puddles and mud, I discovered several trees had broken limbs. In most cases, the wind broke just a single limb (photo at right). With a single limb broken, corrective pruning was simple; I just cut off the damaged limb at the point it was attached to the trunk.

   However, not every tree was easy to fix. The top of this tree (pictured at left) fractured and broke in 2 places, completely removing all leaf and nut bearing limbs. I could prune off the broken limbs but I'd be left with nothing but the trunk. Even if the exposed trunk resprouts new shoots next year, I've found that naked trunks quickly get attacked by wood-boring insects and wood rotting fungi. Ultimately, the tree would never regain a healthy condition. So in this case, I'll remove the entire tree and replant with a new tree this fall.
     Most of the limbs that broke out of my trees were one half of a narrow branch angle (photo at right). This fall I cut off the broken half of the narrow crotch but left the other half to mature its nut crop. With harvest a little over a month away, I want to maximize the number of nuts I collect this fall. The standing half remains in a much weakened condition which means that after harvest I'll need to prune out the rest this damaged branch. If left un-pruned,  the standing half has a high probability of snapping off during the next strong storm.

   Damage to the entire orchard was light. I took the photo above to show you the task I was faced with this morning. You'll note one severely broken tree and one with a single broken limb. However, the remaining trees in the background did not suffer any limb breakage. It took me about 3 hours to drive around and prune off broken limbs on 30 acres of pecan trees. Once the soil dries up, I'll go back with my tractor and grapple to pick up pruned limbs and haul them off to the brush pile.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Earlton: First cultivar to ripen in 2023

Earlton, 15 Sept. 2023

     It has been a long hot summer with just barely enough rainfall to produce a pecan crop.  Our dry summer weather has created smaller than normal pecans with some kernel filling issues. However, this year my pecans seem to be ripening normally. As expected, Earlton was the first cultivar in my orchard to split shuck (photo at right). Earlton originated from my pecan breeding project and is the result of a controlled cross between  Pawnee and Greenriver.

    The first pecan tree to ripen in any pecan grove often suffers from immense wildlife pressure. While I was collecting a nut sample from Earlton, I spotted the tell-tale signs that a bushy-tailed thief had stolen a pecan right out of the shuck (photo at left). Note that a portion of the shuck was chewed off to allow better access to a fully ripened pecan (now gone).

    On closer inspection I noted a pile of shucks at the base of the tree (photo at right). Squirrels often cut off an entire nut cluster then bring the cluster down to the base of the tree to remove the shucks. Once they free a pecan from the shuck they scamper back up the tree with the pecan to eat the nut or cache it away for future use. They definitely don't take the time to eat the pecan while on the ground; That would put them in danger of being eaten themselves by a hawk, owl, or coyote. Note that you can't see any shell fragments amonst the green shucks. It clear all these pecans where taken elsewhere.

   I will be checking nut ripening 3 times per week this fall. It will be interesting to see how the other cultivars in my orchard split their shucks in comparison to previous years.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Observing pecan budbreak

     After a long winter, Spring finally arrived to the pecan grove. This year, I decided to photograph pecan bud development and leaf burst as it occurred during the month of April.  Each week, I snapped photos of pecan shoots on a Kanza tree (protogynous flowering) and a Liberty tree (protandrous flowering).

   On April 5th, the buds on Kanza trees had broken open their outer scales and were starting to show swelling green buds (photo at right).  


      On the same date (April 5) Liberty buds had swollen in size but had yet to split open their outer scales (photo at left).  

     One week later (April 12) Kanza buds were showing the first stages of leaf burst (photo at right). At this point, the two lateral buds that flank each vegetative shoot are still tightly closed. These lateral buds will eventually produce catkins.

   As a protandrous cultivar, Liberty displays its catkins first as buds start to open up in the Spring (photo at left, April 12). The vegetative bud has emerged but leaves have yet to burst forth.

       By April 18, Kanza leaves have unfurled and catkins are now visible (photo at right). You should note that Kanza catkins are long and narrow which is typical of catkins produced by protogynous cultivars.

     By the same date (18 Apr.), the leaves of Liberty have begun to expand but the catkins are still the dominate feature of this cultivar's new growth. Note that pollen sacs are already quite large on each catkin (photo at left). The short and wide catkins of Liberty are typical of cultivars with a protandrous flowering habit. 


    One week later (April 25),  the new vegetative shoots on Kanza trees have grown 4 to 5 inches in length (photo at right). The extremely long catkins have reached their final length. At this date I could still not detect the formation of a pistillate flower clusters at the apex of new shoot Kanza shoots. Hopefully that will come soon.

     On April 25, Liberty leaves have expanded but shoot length lags behind adjacent Kanza trees. However, Liberty catkins are now fully formed and will be ready to shed pollen about the same time as Kanza pistillate flowers appear in early May. (photo at left).

    On April 25, I searched long and hard for any signs of pistillate flower formation. After last year's extreme drought, I'm extremely curious to see how my trees will flower this Spring. I did find a single Caney terminal that displayed the early stages of pistillate flower development. In the photo at right, look carefully between the youngest emerging leaves. Note the oval-shaped structure nestled in the shoot's growing tip. That's the first sign of a pistillate flower cluster.


Monday, February 6, 2023

Looking inside a pecan graft union

      Whenever I remove a pecan tree, I like to save the portion of the trunk that contains the graft union. After drying a few weeks, I slice open the trunk with a band saw hoping to reveal the anatomy of the graft.  This winter I got lucky. In the photo above, you can see every step I took in placing a bark graft on this tree.

     As you look at the photo, note that the color of the wood is distinctively different between scion and stock. Wood growing from the scion is lighter in color than the wood of the stock. A distinctive color boundary between scion and stock extends across the entire trunk. Even though scion and stock grow together seamlessly, they remain genetically separate and never mix. This is graphically illustrated in the photo by the sliver of light-colored scionwood that dives deep into the stock. This inclusion of scion into the stock is exactly where I inserted the grafting wood under the bark of the stock (even the staples are visible).  

      I've always been fascinated by the grafting process and how that process is reflected in the grain of the wood. The photo above shows a hall table I built using pecan boards cut to reveal a graft union. The left side of the table is Giles rootstock while the right side is the cultivar, Osage. Note the distinctive brown line that cuts across the table indicating the boundary between scion and stock. In this example, the rootstock wood is lighter in color than the Osage wood grafted on top.