New Pecan Variety Produces in the Fast LaneBy Ben Hardin
November 18, 1996
COLLEGE STATION, Texas, Nov. 18--A new pecan variety called "Creek" cranks out yields as soon as five years after planting, giving growers up to two years' headstart on profits, U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists report.
Developed by USDA's Agricultural Research Service and state experiment stations in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas, the precocious and prolific tree also has an environmentally friendly trait--natural resistance to a common fungal disease called scab. "Less fungicide, if any, should be required to provide consumers with a bountiful supply of pecans," notes ARS pecan geneticist Tommy E. Thompson.
Young Creek trees and graftwood should be available from commercial nurseries next winter. The nuts they produce are large enough to be sold in the shell or shelled to produce attractive kernel halves.
Creek's high yield potential could pose a management challenge to growers as the trees mature, Thompson warns.
"These trees may produce too many nuts, resulting in poorly developed kernels," he says. "Some system of nut thinning such as mechanical shaking of the trees in August may prevent overproduction and help the tree to produce quality nuts the following year. The key to successful use of this variety is managing the crop load."
Because of Creek's tendency to overproduce, Thompson suggests a possible strategy of planting the trees as a temporary cultivar in close spacing. Then, after about a dozen years, the growers could remove some Creek trees and allow trees of a permanent cultivar to fill the gaps.
As long as Creek trees remain in the orchard, their ability to shed abundant pollen in mid-season should make them ideal companion trees for the pecan cultivars Choctow, Stuart, Schley, Sioux and Wichita.
ARS researchers began developing Creek in 1961 from a cross between the Mohawk and Starking Hardy Giant cultivars.
[Kanza is another newly released pecan variety developed by Thompson.]
Pecans are a multimillion-dollar industry that provides primary or supplemental income for rural landowners with orchards or woodlands pasture. In 1995, approximately 268 million pounds of pecans were produced nationally with a value of about $272 million.
Scientific contact: Tommy E. Thompson, Crop Germplasm Research, Southern Crops Research Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, College Station, Tex. 77879. Telephone: (409) 272-1402.