Summer is a good time to consider and plan for winter work. One of the jobs of winter with the longest reaching impact is planting. Choosing varieties to plant can be challenging with so many cultivars becoming available in recent years. Often a grower will contemplate using new releases, but ultimately settle on what he/she is most comfortable with- those that have been tried and proven.
I, Buck Paulk, have purchased an opportunity to use this platform to present my observations and offer my opinions concerning cultivars that are available from our nursery. To keep it brief I will comment on a few each time over a series of short articles. There is much information already available from the State Extensions or USDA and I look to their information as part of formulating an opinion, but to me experiencing a cultivar in my own location and management has no equal in the value of discerning its usefulness. These experiences are what I offer, as if you and I were just having a casual conversation, which is what tends to happen many times in the course of taking tree orders. Keep in mind from where I speak: Ray City, GA- extreme South Central Ga. Disease susceptibility is higher than average due to lower elevation and high humidity – differences can be quite dramatic from other locations in a cultivar’s performance and my expected management. With that stated, here are my thoughts on a few to consider for the day:
PAWNEE- There is tremendous value in “tried and true”. Pawnee has a track record that has proven itself very profitable. It is the earliest prominent cultivar and defines its own market. It scabs about as bad as Desirable here, but it handles it better. I do fine with it on an average 10-15 day schedule here and it produces well. You know what you have and what you have to do to get them to market- it’s nice to have that. Pawnee is still very much a sound selection, especially north of here or on a ‘hill’ around here.
CREEK- Been around enough to know. To know that it may be the most versatile cultivar being used today. It offers the quickest return on investment by being precocious as it is. Plant at higher densities and double up early years of production, it’s a no-brainer in my mind, especially for leases where the land owner wants to see something back quickly. Average meat yields and good enough size will offer into most any market except the premium gift pack (maybe on a rare occasion). She ain’t gonna win the beauty pageant but she sure does answer the questions well. Smaller than average tree structure with larger than average per acre yields. Solid plant, inter plant, permanent, or temporary Creek has a fit somewhere in most any operation. Fruit thinning is a must some years, make it beat Desirables to the marketplace for greater potential. I realized the quickest 2000 lbs/ac crop on my farm with Creek at 8 years old and 35 trees per acre. I expect to outpace that with a 55 tree per acre.
Now, some “newer” ones.
WHIDDON- I think this might be my favorite of Dr. Spark’s from UGA. I have it planted, though production is just coming along in 6 year olds maybe 200-300 lbs/acre. It’s not super-fast but it’s not slow either. Test trees show that it is consistently productive with large size (low 40’s count and mid 50’s meat yield). Projected yields hint strongly that this variety at a standard density of 27 trees per acre could reach 1500 lbs+ at year 9-10. That can certainly be increased by density and hedging. Not scabbing at all under a 14-18day spray schedule here. Maturity slightly ahead of Desirable, 2nd week October. I see the value of Whiddon not only in its own orchard, but used as a replacement in almost any existing orchard. With the exception of being planted into a Pawnee orchard I don’t see a reason not to utilize Whiddon in most of our Southeastern orchards for ‘improving” the grade. It fits from a production standpoint and selling standpoint. I expect we all will be getting to know Whiddon better in the near future.
TOM- This is the other that could be my favorite of Dr.Sparks’ releases, and I will close today’s article with it. Included in this article is a picture demonstrating what I speak of. Tom is somewhat “dwarfy” when compared to other cultivars. Note the difference in size of the Tom row compared to the Huffman row next to it. Both were planted in 2013 at 55 trees per acre. Tom has an ability to produce abundantly without eating up so much real estate, therefore a higher density planting can thrive longer before having to be thinned, and then again after thinning has been necessary. It has the smallest nut size of Dr.Sparks releases with counts ranging from 55 to 60. Beautiful meat that will make nice halves with a 54-56% shell out, maturing in the last week of September to the first week of October. No scab here on a 14-18 day spray program. I see Tom as a fit into any market and with a consistent high production of high quality. I expect Tom to carry a load and not show the signs of it, year in and year out, as good as any variety we could hope to be able to do so. Like Rod Stewart sang,” SHE WEARS IT WELL.” I liken Tom to a “Super Elliot,” only I would give a nod to Elliot on scab resistance, otherwise Tom exaggerates and proliferates all the desirable characteristics of the well-known and sought after Elliot. I have just recently begun to plant Tom into more serious acreage. Some have been planted on 40’x20’ (55 trees per acre) and even more on 35’x17.5’ (71 trees per acre). I believe you are going to really enjoy growing Tom and the market is going to enjoy consuming them.
Thanks for reading my musings and I hope it can be of assistance to you. I am glad to discuss anything further and you are most welcome to come here to see for yourself if these or any other cultivars we have to offer interest you.
Shiloh Pecan Farms, Inc.