Pecan trees, Carya illinoensis, often exhibit a strong alternate bearing pattern. The presence of a heavy seed crop inhibits terminals from fruiting the following season. This study was developed to discover at what point in the development of the pecan fruit does this inhibition take place. Six nut removal times were evaluated: (1) after pollination but before fertilization, (2) one-half ovule expansion, (3) full ovule expansion or water stage, (4) dough stage, (5) 3 weeks after the initiation of the dough stage, and (6) no fruit removal until harvest. The cultivar `Mohawk' was used for this randomized block experiment.
Return bloom was significantly enhanced by the removal of fruit prior to the initiation of kernel filling (dough stage). Less than 10% of terminals that supported pecans through the dough stage were able to produce distillate flowers the following year. Twig mortality was significantly higher for terminals that completed kernel filling. These results indicate that nut thinning prior to the water stage may reduce the alternate bearing tendency in pecan.