Factors Influencing Water Split of Pecan Fruit

in HortScience

Water stage fruit split (WS) is an erratic and complex problem often causing major crop losses to susceptible pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] cultivars. This study identified two episodes of WS for `Wichita' pecan—a highly susceptible cultivar. The previously recognized precipitation-induced fruit splitting is the major episode; however, a previously unrecognized precipitation-independent, minor episode can also occured before the major episode. This minor episode was associated with the low solar irradiance and high relative humidity—conditions commonly associated with August rains. The crop characteristics of affected trees also influenced WS in that WS increased as crop load per tree increased. Fruits were also more likely to exhibit WS if located within the lower tree canopy. Treatment of foliage with an antitranspirant immediately before split-inducing conditions increased WS. Maintenance of moist soils for ≈2 weeks before WS-inducing conditions substantially reduced WS-related crop losses. These findings help to explain the erratic nature of WS and indicate that maintenance of trees in a well-watered state for ≈2 weeks before the initiation of shell hardening may substantially reduce WS-related crop losses in certain years.

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