We’ve been relying on our irrigation system during the current drought season, and despite the heat the trees seem to be thriving in these current conditions. One benefit is the dry hot conditions have arrested the progression of some concerning issues in our orchard.
This is a scab lesion that had formed early on in the growing season, and the growth has been arrested due to the dry weather. You can see the cracks in the black lesions (pictured) and as this shuck (the green, outer part of the pecan) expands, the scab spores or disease isn't actively growing, and it's breaking the lesion apart. It’s a good sign to see an old scab lesion with cracks because it means the disease is not active nor harming the growing pecan inside the shuck.
The trick is, any amount of rain or high humidity could reactivate some of those latent spores, and then the disease will continue growing and expanding. Right now, the orchard is in various stages of shell hardening, which is when the hard outer shell of the pecan is formed and the pecan meat begins to transform from water/goo to a delicious nut. It is really interesting that shell hardening is close, which means there's a little bit of resistance to the knife right at the tip of the pecan. However, when the knife is moved towards the center, it cuts right through the shuck. That tells us the shell is starting to get hard and beginning to form. It's early August, which is when we generally expect half shell hardening, which means half the shuck from the tip to the back has started to harden. And by the end of August, the whole thing should be hard. After that, it's not getting any bigger. It's just all the energy goes to filling that kernel inside there.
In these pictures, you can see the pecan meat forming. The white outer shell will be the pecan, and the water inside of it will eventually harden and expand the nut to its ideal plumpness. Most of our early varieties are currently in the shell hardening stage, and in these pictures you can see each part of pecan beginning to take shape.
Stay tuned for more information because in a couple weeks, we’ll provide a crop update on your favorite pecans and announce pre-orders for the new crop.