What is in this article?:
- Lipan pecan variety offers good yield, disease resistance
- Pecan breeding process
- The new pecan variety Lipan - released as a trial variety by USDA-ARS last July - is a large, high-quality nut which generates excellent yields and improved disease resistance.
- The Lipan pecan should make money for growers, says USDA-ARS pecan breeder Tommy Thompson.
- Thompson bred the Lipan variety - Carya illinoinensis - at ARS' pecan breeding and genetics laboratory in College Station, Texas.
- Graft wood has been released to 35 nurseries across the U.S.
Leaders of the Western Pecan Growers Association, from left: President Jay Glover (Glover Farms, Tularosa, N.M.); First Vice-President Roger Hooper (Farmers Investment Company, Sahuarita, Ariz.); Past-President Louie Salopek (Western Blend, Las Cruces, N.M.); and Executive Board Member Frank Paul Salopek (Frank Salopek & Sons Farms, Las Cruces).
The new pecan variety Lipan - released as a trial variety last July - is a large, high-quality nut which generates excellent yields and improved disease resistance.
“The Lipan pecan should make money for growers,” according to USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) pecan breeder Tommy Thompson.
Thompson bred the Lipan variety — Carya illinoinensis — the ARS’ 29th pecan release, at the agency’s pecan breeding and genetics laboratory in College Station, Texas. Graft wood has been released to 35 nurseries around the U.S.
“The Lipan pecan will be a high contributor in commercial pecan orchards with improved yield potential and excellent resistance to pecan scab disease,” Thompson says.
Thompson discussed the Lipan variety during the 46th annual Western Pecan Growers Association Conference held in Las Cruces, N.M., this spring.
“We are very excited about Lipan,” Thompson told the pecan crowd.
Lipan produces about a 2,500-pounds-per-acre yield. About 45 Lipan pecans constitute 1 pound of inshell nuts; a lower per-pecan number than many standard varieties, including Pawnee. This means Lipan pecans are larger than Pawnee — the most popular-planted variety in the world.
The percent shell kernel rates in the low-to-mid-50 range which is better than average.
“The shelling qualities of the Lipan pecan are excellent,” Thompson told the pecan industry crowd. “Lipan shells out into complete halves which have a very good color. The Lipan variety should be very desirable for consumers for baking use, fresh consumption and other uses.”
Another positive of the Lipan tree is its strong tree structure and resistance to wind. Lipan is an excellent pollenizer for the Kanza, Wichita and Lakota pecan varieties.
Pecan scab, caused by the fungus Cladosporium caryigenum, is the most widespread and destructive pecan disease. Infected nut shucks (husks) receive the primary damage which can cause the premature fall of nuts to the ground and reduced nut size. Scab also impacts pecan leaves. The tree is weakened by repeated infections.
USDA-ARS conducts the only pecan breeding program in the world except for a small breeding facility in Georgia which breeds only for Georgia and patents all its varieties. USDA pecan varieties are not patented. After an ARS release, growers can freely propagate the new varieties.
“Lipan is a trial cultivar at this point,” Thompson said. “We think pecan producers will like it.”
All ARS-developed varieties — except for the first, Barton — are named after American Indian tribes. The Lipan tribe is an Apache tribe from the Rio Grande River and Mexico areas.
Lipan can be grown in all pecan-growing areas of the world except in extreme northern U.S. production areas. The pecans can be sold in-shell or shelled to produce a large proportion of halves and large pieces.
Lipan, an early-maturing nut, is harvested around Oct. 4. This is about 10-14 days after the Pawnee harvest (Sept. 22), and about 17 days before the Desirable variety (Oct. 21) and 20 days before the Wichita (Oct. 24).
Pawnee, Lipan’s male parent, is the first variety considered an early-harvest variety. Pawnee is currently the most popular planted variety in the world.
“In the USDA breeding program, we are extremely interested in early nut production,” Thompson explained. “A huge percent of the industry is interested in early-harvested nuts. We have good varieties now so producers can design their orchards to have all early-maturing varieties.”
Early-maturing trees generally bring higher prices due to the demand for early, new-season pecans. This has been the main driving force for the Pawnee variety along with other excellent characteristics.
Lipan has a higher kernel quality in shellability, good kernel color, plus higher scab resistance.
The USDA does not have Lipan trees for distribution. Genetic material of the release will be deposited in the National Plant Germplasm System for research purposes, including the development and commercialization of new varieties.
Thompson bred the first Lipan plant cross in 1986 from the parent varieties Cheyenne (female) and Pawnee (male).
For producers’ future pecan tree plantings, Thompson suggests planting a few Lipan trees to replace older or dead trees in an existing orchard. Avoid planting entire orchards with Lipan trees until the variety is a proven success in orchards.