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Bruce W. Wood

Zinc (Zn) deficiency is common in commercial pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) C. Koch] orchards. Correction by multiple annual foliar spray applications is expensive but effective in eliminating Zn deficiency. Correction by soil application is also expensive and is usually impractical or noneffective. There is a need for more economical and long-lasting methods for satisfying tree Zn nutritional needs. It is reported here that tree foliar Zn needs [(i.e., 50 μg·g−1 dry weight (dw) or greater] are potentially met through one-time “banding” of Zn sulfate (ZnSO4·7H2O) or Zn oxide (ZnO) onto orchard floors. Zinc needs of 4-year-old ‘Desirable’ trees growing on acidic soil were satisfied over a 4-year period by a single-banded soil application of either Zn sulfate or ZnO over underground drip irrigation lines at a Zn rate of 2112 g Zn per tree (giving foliar Zn concentrations of 60–115 μg·g−1 dw). Rates of Zn at 264 to 1056 g per tree are occasionally efficacious, but rates less than 264 g Zn per tree (0, 33, 66, and 132) were always ineffective for meeting a leaf sufficiency threshold of 50 μg·g−1 dw. Sulfate and oxide Zn forms were equally effective in meeting tree Zn needs. Foliar Zn concentrations increased quadratically with increasing soil-banded Zn treatments; however, foliar Zn concentrations did not necessarily increase over the 4-year period within each Zn rate treatment. Increasing amounts of banded Zn per tree also increased foliar Mn concentration (from ≈150 to 269 μg·g−1 dw) of treated trees the fourth year posttreatment but did not affect foliar concentration of other key micronutrients (i.e., Fe, Co, Cu, or Ni). This fertilization strategy offers an efficacious alternative to annual foliar Zn sprays for orchards established on acidic soils and provides a means of ensuring rapid and long-term Zn absorption through soil application. The approach indicates that soil banding of Zn on certain acidic soils can satisfy the nutritional needs of pecan trees for several years after a single application.

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Bruce W. Wood

The cyclic, alternate bearing and correlative aspects of U.S. produced pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] nuts are characterized. An attempt to forecast production using stepwise autoregressive techniques identified a national level biennial cycle for cultivar (CV) and seedling (SC) class nuts and a novemennial (9 year) cycle for SG class nuts. The intensity of the biennial cycle at the national level has generally been low to moderate over the last 50 years for CV and SG class nuts with no clear time trend being expressed. During the most recent years (1979-1991), national production of CV class nuts has not exhibited pronounced bienniality, whereas that of SG class nuts exhibited a moderate bienniality. The nature of the the irregularity of cycling of U.S. and state production appears to nullify the use of univariate polynomial equations as a practical tool for accurately forecasting nut production. Nut production within individual states was also cyclic, with 2-, 3-, 5, 6-, 10-, 12-, 14-, 15-, and 16-year cycles, depending on state and nut class. The most intense contemporary biennial cycles for CV class nuts were from Oklahoma, South Carolina, and North Carolina, whereas cycling of SG class nuts was most intense in Texas and Oklahoma. Correlations of production within and among states indicated that most interrelationships are relatively weak; however, national production of CV class nuts are highly correlated (r = 0.96) with the production of CV class nuts in Georgia, whereas that of SG class nuts is most correlated with that of Louisiana.

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Bruce W. Wood

Dormant season sprays of hydrogen cyanamide applied to pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] trees advanced budbreak, flowering, and shuck dehiscence. Hydrogen cyanamide was applied to dormant branches at ≈60, 45, 30, and 15 days before normal vegetative budbreak at rates of 0, 120, 240, 480, and 960 mm (corresponding to ≈0%, 0.5%, 1%, 2%, and 4%, solutions for 3 years). Depending on treatment, hydrogen cyanamide advanced budbreak by as much as 17 days, female and male flower maturity by up to 15 days, and nut ripening by as much as 14 days without reducing nut yield or causing phytotoxicity. Hydrogen cyanamide applied at 480 to 960 mm ≈60 days before expected budbreak possibly may be used commercially to advance ripening, manipulate time of pollen dispersal, and substitute for chilling when pecan is grown in mild environments.

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Bruce W. Wood

Economic loss resulting from nickel (Ni) deficiency can occur in horticultural and agronomic crops. This study assesses whether excessive iron (Fe) can induce Ni deficiency. Both chelated Fe and diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DPTA; a commonly used Fe-chelant) induces Ni deficiency in pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch]. Foliar sprays of Fe [Fe-DPTA (1.1995 g·L−1)] during early post-budbreak shoot growth can trigger, or increase in severity, Ni deficiency symptoms in the emerging pecan canopy. Deficiency is also inducible in greenhouse-grown ‘Desirable’ seedlings at budbreak by Fe-DPTA application to soil and to a much lesser extent by DPTA alone. Endogenous Fe, just after budbreak, triggers Ni deficiency-associated distortions in pecan seedling leaf growth and morphology when the Fe:Ni is ≈150 or greater with subsequent severity being proportional to the Fe:Ni ratio and Fe:Ni ≈1200 or greater triggering extreme dwarfing of canopy organs. Timely treatment of symptomatic organs with foliar-applied Ni-sulfate restores normal growth, whereas foliar treatment with salts of other transition metals (titanium, vanadium, chromium, cobalt, copper, zinc, and molybdenum) of possible metabolic significance is ineffective. Results indicate that excessive endogenous Fe, and DPTA to a lesser extent, in organs and tissues during early post-budbreak growth can trigger Ni deficiency. A similar Fe on Ni antagonism may also occur with the Ni-associated nutritional physiology of other crops; thus, excessive exposure to chelated Fe not only triggers Ni deficiency in pecan, but may also occur in other horticultural and agronomic crops.

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Bruce W. Wood

Alternate bearing (AB) by individual trees is a major biological problem faced by pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] nut producers. The linkage between flowering and subsequent cropload with xylem sap characteristics at the time of floral bud swelling and expansion is unknown. Multiyear field studies of mature ‘Cheyenne’ and ‘Moneymaker’ trees, in “on” or “off” phases of AB, were evaluated regarding this linkage. Xylem sap flowing from trunks of ‘Cheyenne’ trees just before, and at the time of, budbreak (i.e., “late winter/early spring”) consisted of a variety of simple sugars. These were hexoses (fructose and glucose), a disaccharide (sucrose), polysaccharides (raffinose and stachyose), and sugar alcohols (xylitol and sorbitol). Sucrose was the overwhelmingly dominant simple carbohydrate at this growth stage, comprising 55% to 75% of the total molar composition, regardless of tree bearing status or sampling time during the seasonal transition from late winter to early spring as buds swell, break, and begin to produce shoots and flowers. Both sap flow volume and concentration of individual carbohydrates were much greater in “on” phase than “off” phase trees. “On” phase xylem sap contained ≈19.9-fold more sucrose than sap from “off” phase trees. The concentration of all sap carbohydrates was much greater at flow inception, declining quickly as buds transition from “bud swell” to “budbreak” and subsequent “shoot growth.” Depending on crop year, individual “on” phase ‘Cheyenne’ trees (≈25 years old) exhibited flow volumes 5.5- to 20.2-fold greater than “off” phase trees. In-shell nut yield by both ‘Cheyenne’ and ‘Moneymaker’ trees (110 years old) increased hyperbolically with increasing “late winter/early spring” sap flow volume. Sap flow from ‘Cheyenne’ and ‘Moneymaker’ resulted in near maximum nut yield when flow volume per xylem tap peaked was at ≈10 L/tree and ≈15 L/tree, respectively, over a 16-day sampling period. These findings are suggestive that sucrose, and possibly other simple carbohydrates, moving acropetally toward axillary bud meristems of shoots during “late winter/early spring” at about the time of “bud swelling” influences the final phase of floral development and therefore subsequent cropload.

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Bruce W. Wood

Excessive fruit drop (i.e., June drop) can limit orchard profitability of certain pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] cultivars. The present study examines efficacy of aminoethoxyvinylglycine (AVG; formulated as ReTain®; Valent BioSciences, Libertyville, IL), a natural ethylene inhibitor, for increasing nutmeat yield in a commercial ‘Desirable’ pecan orchard over a 2-year period. The 30-ha experiment consisted of two treatments (nontreated versus ReTain) in the first year, an “off” year in the orchard's alternate bearing cycle. The second year's study, an “on” year, consisted of four treatments (i.e., “08 nontreated + 09 nontreated,” “08ReTain + 09 nontreated,” “08 nontreated + 09 ReTain,” and “08ReTain + 09 ReTain”). AVG, as ReTain [132 mg·L−1 a.i. (11.7 oz/acre)], was applied as two post-pollination canopy sprays (937 L·ha−1) 2 weeks apart in both years. During the “off” year, ReTain increased nut yield parameters with ReTain increasing kernel yield by 36% (704 kg·ha−1 versus 516 kg·ha−1) over that of nontreated trees. In the subsequent “on” crop year, the trees exhibiting a ReTain-associated previous year yield increase of ≈36% exhibited a reduction in yield of ≈25%, thus largely negating the previous season's yield increase over a 2-year alternate bearing cycle. Additionally, ReTain-treated trees during the “on” year failed to exhibit an increase in yield parameters over that of the nontreated control. As a result of a lag effect on subsequent year yield parameters, ReTain offers potential as a crop-load management tool for ‘Desirable’ orchards in “off” years such as a year of relatively high nutmeat price followed by a year of relatively low price. There appears to be no positive effect on yield when used in a heavy crop-load “on” year of an alternate bearing cycle. Thus, ReTain might have benefit for stabilizing alternate bearing in ‘Desirable’ pecan orchards. Kernel quality (defined as percentage of nut weight as kernel) of individual nuts from “on” year trees was not as sensitive to units of yield increase as for individual nuts of “off” year trees, thus implying that the rate of assimilate partitioning to individual reproductive structures in “off”-year trees is not as great as that in “on”-year trees.

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Bruce W. Wood

Long-term productivity of commercial pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] enterprises in relatively low-light environments such as the southeastern United States are limited by excessive tree crowding as orchards age. An effective horticultural strategy for countering this problem in relatively high-light environments is mechanical hedge-type pruning; however, uncertainty persists regarding the best strategies in low-light environments. This report describes the results of a 4-year study regarding the response of ≈25-year-old ‘Desirable’ pecan trees to different mechanical hedgerow-type, moderate canopy width (i.e., 2.43-m cuts from tree axis) pruning strategies. Canopy treatments were nonpruned control (NPC), annual dormant season side-hedge pruning on two faces, annual summer season side-hedge pruning on two faces, and alternating annual dormant season side-hedge pruning on a single alternating face. Relative to the NPC treatment, all three pruning strategies: 1) reduced in-shell nut yields by roughly 19% to 38%; 2) reduced marketable nut-meat yield by ≈19% to 36%; 3) failed to stimulate shoot development or fruiting within the central interior zone of tree canopies; 4) increased kernel percentage of nuts; 5) increased nut-meat grade; 6) substantially reduced alternate bearing intensity (I = 0.51 to ≈0.20); and 7) reduced orchard crowding. Pruning-associated reductions in nut yield appear sufficient to limit the commercial usefulness of annual or biennial mechanical hedgerow-type pruning of ‘Desirable’ pecan orchards at moderate canopy widths in relatively low-light environments such as the southeastern United States.

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Bruce W. Wood and Deane Stahmann

An ever increasing cost:price squeeze on the profitability of pecan (Carya illinoinensis) farming is driving a search for alternate husbandry approaches. `Wichita' and `Western' trees maintained at relatively high tree population density, by mechanized hedge pruning and topping, produced greater nut yield than an orchard treatment in which tree population density was reduced by tree thinning (144% for `Wichita' and 113% for `Western Schley'). Evaluation of three different hedge pruning strategies, over a 20-year period, identified a discrete canopy hedge pruning and topping strategy using a 2-year cycle, as being superior to that of a discrete canopy hedge pruning and topping strategy using an 8-year cycle, but not as good as a continuous canopy hedge pruning and topping strategy using a 1-year cycle. An evaluation of 21 commercial cultivars indicated that nut yields of essentially all cultivars can be relatively high if properly hedge pruned [annual in-shell nut yields of 2200 to 3626 lb/acre (2465.8 to 4064.1 kg·ha-1), depending on cultivar]. Comparative alternate bearing intensity and nut quality characteristics are reported for 21 cultivars. These evaluations indicate that pecan orchards can be highly productive, with substantially reduced alternate bearing, when managed via a hedge-row-like pruning strategy giving narrow canopies [3403 lb/acre (3814.2 kg·ha-1) for `Wichita' and 3472 lb/acre (3891.5 kg·ha-1) for `Western Schley']. North-south-oriented (N-S) hedgerows produced higher yields that did east-west (E-W) hedgerows (yield for N-S `Wichita' was 158% that of E-W trees and N-S `Western Schley' was 174% that of E-W trees).

These data indicate that mechanized hedge pruning and topping offers an attractive alternative to the conventional husbandry paradigm.

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Michael W. Smith and Bruce W. Wood

Allometric equations were developed for orchard-grown pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) C. Koch] trees. Trees, ranging in size from 22 to 33 cm in trunk diameter 1.4 m above the ground, were destructively harvested from two sites. The entire aboveground portion of each tree was harvested and then divided into leaves, current season's shoots, and branches ≥1 year old plus trunk. Roots were sampled by digging a trench beginning beneath the trunk and extending to one-half the distance to an adjacent tree, then separating the roots from the soil. Roots were then divided into those less than 1 cm in diameter and those ≥1 cm in diameter. Equations in the form Y = eaXb were developed to estimate dry biomass of most tree components and the whole tree, where Y is the dry weight, e is the base of the natural logarithm, X is the trunk diameter at 1.4 m above the ground, and a and b are coefficients. A linear equation provided the best fit for estimating the weight of the current season's growth. Power equations were also developed to estimate the weights of inner bark and wood for different size trunks or branches.

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Bruce W. Wood and Jerry A. Payne

Ground applications of ZnO to large mature pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] trees in orchards possessing an acidic soil, but with a culturally induced slightly alkaline soil surface zone, were at least as effective as was ZnSO4 for rapidly correcting severe foliar Zn deficiency, improving in-shell nut production, and maintaining kernel quality. Under such soil conditions, light disking of Zn applied at 160 kg·ha-1 from ZnO elevated foliar Zn above the sufficiency level by the second growing season after application; whereas an absence of disking delayed substantial uptake from ZnO until the fourth growing season. ZnO, usually a lower priced Zn source, was as effective as was ZnSO4 for correcting Zn deficiencies via broadcast ground application; however, same season correction of Zn deficiency was best accomplished by the standard practice of using foliar sprays of ZnSO4 rather than by heavy soil applications of either Zn source.