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Water Split is On The Way

Dr. Lenny Wells, UGA Pecan Horticulturalist, discusses water split in pecan in his most recent blog post.

This is just a reminder that given the recent rain and the stage the pecans are in, if you have not seen it already, you we will likely be seeing water stage fruit split on many varieties over the next couple weeks. 

Water stage fruit-split of pecan is often a major problem exhibited by thin-shelled pecan varieties (e.g., Schley, Caddo, Oconee, Sumner, Wichita, Frotscher, and Farley) and, to a lesser degree, by certain relatively thick-shelled cultivars (e.g., ‘Cape Fear’ and ‘Elliott’).  The problem occurs when water pressure builds up rapidly inside the nut, causing the shell, seed coat, and sometimes the shuck to split about the time of the initiation of kernel filling and shell hardening, resulting in abortion and drop of damaged fruit about 7 days after splitting.

Water split is highly erratic, with incidence and severity varying depending on cultivar, location, and year. Crop loss can be severe in certain years and nearly absent in others.  It occurs during the “late water stage”; a time when turgor pressure inside the nut is high and the shell is beginning to harden.  This typically occurs during mid-August for susceptible cultivars growing in the southeastern U.S.

Water split is associated with rainfall occurring at the initiation of shell hardening. There are usually 2 episodes to water split. The major episode is usually triggered by rainfall (or potentially irrigation) and a relatively minor event triggered by “high humidity/low light”.  Irrigation schedule, shading, and crop load also factor in.

Often, the split is inside the nut and you will simply see green nuts on the ground, which will stain a few days later. Other times when the incident is particularly violent you will see an actual longitudinal split in the shuck itself. READ MORE

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