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  • Author or Editor: M. Lenny Wells x
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The effects of mechanical fruit thinning on pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] yield, nut quality, and profitability were assessed using ‘Sumner’ and ‘Cape Fear’ pecan trees cultivated in a commercial orchard. The moderate to light production year (OFF year) return crop and return crop value of ‘Cape Fear’ and ‘Sumner’ was increased by mechanical thinning in the year of high production (ON year). This enhanced the 2-year total value and 2-year average value of both cultivars. Increased profitability of these cultivars with mechanical fruit thinning results primarily from higher yields and prices in the OFF year of production, which offset any loss in yield and/or crop value generated by fruit thinning in the ON year. Premature germination of ‘Cape Fear’ pecans was reduced from 34% to 4% with mechanical fruit thinning. Mechanical fruit thinning appears to be a highly valuable practice, leading to increased profit potential for ‘Cape Fear’ and ‘Sumner’ pecan.

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The productive life of a pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] orchard frequently spans two or more generations, but eventually orchards require renewal. Weather events damage tree canopies, pests affect tree health and productivity, and new cultivars offer greater yield potential or better nut quality. A popular method of orchard renewal is selective tree removal combined with interplanting new trees. Many old pecan orchards in the southeastern United States are infected with crown gall [Agrobacterium tumefaciens (Smith and Townsend) Conn.], potentially a problem for interplanted trees. Two tree types, nursery-grafted trees and seedling trees that were grafted 3 years after transplanting, were evaluated 6 years after transplanting. Transplanted trees varied in distances from established 80-year-old trees or residual stumps after tree removal. Ten trees near the study site, located 3.6 m from crown gall-infected stumps, were excavated to determine disease incidence. No crown gall was observed on any of the 87 trees in the study or the excavated trees. Trunk diameters of interplanted trees increased as distance from the nearest stump decreased and distance from the nearest established tree increased. Leaf elemental concentrations of the 6-year-old transplants were not related to observed growth differences. Conclusions include 1) stumps promoted rapid transplant growth; 2) crown gall infections of transplanted trees were unlikely even when crown gall symptoms were obvious on adjacent trees and stumps; and 3) transplant growth was suppressed by established trees.

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A large number of agronomic and horticultural crops are susceptible to injury and yield loss from drift-level exposures to synthetic auxin herbicides. A new generation of genetically modified crops including cotton (Gossypium hirsutum), field corn (Zea mays), soybean (Glycine max), and canola (Brassica napus) with resistance to dicamba and 2,4-D herbicides has been developed to address the problem of glyphosate-resistant weeds. In the few years since their commercial introduction, these technologies have been rapidly adopted. The objective of this study was to determine the potential effects of simulated, single drift events of 2,4-D and dicamba on pecan (Carya illinoinensis) trees. 2,4-D amine [3.8 lb/gal acid equivalent (a.e.)] or dicamba-Diglycolamine salt (4.0 lb/gal a.e.) were applied in 1.0%, 0.1%, and 0.01% by volume spray solutions to pecan trees in June 2013. In 2016 and 2017, 2,4-D choline (3.8 lb/gal a.e.) or dicamba-N,N-Bis-(3-aminopropyl) methylamine (5.0 lb/gal a.e.) were applied in 1.0%, 0.1%, and 0.01% by volume spray solutions to pecan trees in May. These results suggest that serious injury can occur to pecan trees receiving a drift application of 1.0% by volume dicamba or 2,4-D. This injury includes deformed foliage, dead foliage, dead limbs, and/or branches, and arrested nut development. There were no major differences in the response of pecan to either dicamba or 2,4-D at similar rates in this study. Pecan damage resulting from off-target movement of 2,4-D and dicamba at rates ≥1% by volume has the potential to cause significant injury. Yield was not negatively affected by any of the treatments, suggesting that pecan trees can compensate for the observed injury to some extent. The effect of treatments on percent kernel was variable.

Open Access

Previous studies with a variety of tree species have demonstrated enhanced flowering, fruit set, and yield with foliar boron (B) applications. The effects of foliar-applied B on pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] in the southeastern United States are poorly understood. This study was undertaken to investigate the effect of foliar B application on leaf tissue B concentration, fruit retention, and kernel quality of pecan. Controlled pollination studies showed no effect of B on fruit retention of ‘Stuart’ pecan. Tissue B concentration, fruit retention, and percent kernel of ‘Desirable’ pecan were occasionally enhanced by both two and five B applications made before and through the pollination window in multiple studies over 3 years. As long as leaf B is within the recommended sufficiency range, timing of foliar B application during the critical prepollination period appears to be more valuable for pecan production than are increasing leaf B levels. Given the production enhancements observed here, and the low cost of B fertilizers, the practice of foliar B application merits consideration as a component of pecan orchard management when tank-mixed with normal prepollination pesticide or nutrient sprays.

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