New Pecan Variety Produces in
the Fast Lane
By 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
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.