[nafex] Re: Are your plants working for you? AKA, Ruthless culling

Lucky Pittman Lucky.Pittman at murraystate.edu
Thu Dec 28 14:18:03 EST 2000


At 08:25 AM 12/28/2000 -0800, Lon wrote:
>I can't swear it's the same with apples, but with many old grape varieties,
>they tend to have rather specific climate/soil requirements.  Not surprising
>when you realize that they were selected at a time when they didn't get
>tested everywhere before release - someone found a good vine that did well
>in their area, so they grew it and raved about it.  When the variety was
>eventually tried elsewhere, the lack of adaptibility was discovered.

A similar event occurred with pecans in my area, though it was more of a 
pollination problem than an adaptability problem.
The "Major" pecan originated in a 400-acre block of native pecans in the 
Green River delta, up around Henderson/Owensboro, KY.  The ortet was a very 
productive, annual bearing tree with excellent nut quality.  When it was 
selected and first propagated, in the early 1900s, the ramets did not 
perform up to expectations.  The problem was (and still is, to some degree) 
finding a good, productive cultivar with late to very late pollen shed that 
would pollinate the bulk of nutlet flowers on Major.
In that 400-acre stand of native pecans, there were, undoubtedly, several 
trees with good late pollen shed to set good nut crops on Major, but 
evidently their nut quality was not sufficient for them to 'make the grade' 
and be selected(with the exception of "Greenriver") for propagation.   Most 
of the grafted northern/midwestern pecan selections of that time did not 
have sufficient late pollen shed to allow Major to produce up to its 
genetic potential, when it was moved to other sites.
In this part of the country, a lot of work has gone into attempting to 
identify good late pollen sources to help Major work well.   We've now got 
some reasonable candidates(Hodge, Lattus, Chetopa, and Kanza(a Major 
offspring from the USDA Pecan Breeding program)),  and current 
recommendations from the KNGA are still for Major to comprise 70% of 
commercial plantings in this area, almost 100 years after its initial 
selection - sometimes quality doesn't go out of style.


Lucky Pittman
USDA Zone 6
Hopkinsville, KY


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