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.