Potential Kernel & Pollination Issues

The crop has progressed well and has looked good overall to date. However, UGA Extension Pecan Specialist Dr. Lenny Wells has been contacted on issues with kernels of some varieties.

There are a few non-filled kernels or “pops” out there, which is not uncommon. More disturbingly, I had several calls about a problem that is showing up on multiple varieties but is most pronounced on ‘Oconee’. This problem appears as necrotic kernels which have turned to a gelatinous/liquid material inside an otherwise healthy-looking nut. These nuts are different in appearance from the normal “pop” or pollination related kernel abortion.


Photo by Dr. Lenny Wells

I also cut 25 nuts of several varieties, each from our production research orchard at the UGA Ponder Farm. All trees are healthy and receive commercial-level management. The percentage of rotten kernels for each variety is listed below:

Cape Fear: 24%

Oconee: 60%

Sumner: 36%

Desirable: 24%

Stuart: 35%

I saw kernels in various stages of this necrosis. It appears to start often on the bottom of the kernel, which begins to turn black and gelatinous, progressing from there.

Photo by Dr. Lenny Wells

Photo by Dr. Lenny Wells

This week, we looked at some Pawnee that are not falling off the tree. The shuck is very shriveled in appearance. Some shucks are split and we wondered about water shuck split. However, this does not usually occur on Pawnee. Dr. Wells believes this issue maybe related to pollination. At this point, these nuts will not be able to be harvested.



(Dr. Wells) From the calls I received, this appears to be a fairly widespread problem affecting the crop at varying levels. Unfortunately, we don’t really know what is causing this nor to what extent it will affect the crop. Most of these nuts will blow out of the harvester or cleaning plant. I have seen enough out there that I expect growers will notice it more and more as harvest progresses.

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