Mike Cartwright (Evergreen, AL) and I (Hamilton, AL) visited Max Draughn today at his Pecan Hill farm and nursery. He showed us around @250 acres of pecan trees with roughly half producing and the rest recently planted trees. Trees ranged in age from 150 years down to newly planted this year. We looked at most of his nurse limb selections along with roughly 50 named varieties of pecans plus lots of older native trees.
We saw - among others - producing trees of Amling, Creek, Excel, Elliott, McMillan, Gafford, Jackson, Forkert, Big Dan, Giftpack, Headquarters, Syrup Mill, plus many more.
Of the seedling selections we looked at, I was most impressed with SD-8 and RH-3. We looked at roughly 20 other seedlings, many of which were very good looking pecans, that had some scab or other weaknesses. For a combination of characteristics, SD-8 and RH-3 were the best we looked at. This might change next year if scab resistance breaks down or other flaws show up.
SD-8 is an Elliott seedling with heavy production of small nuts roughly 1/3 larger than Elliott. Production is consistent and reliable. Leaf disease and insect damage was minimal. While the tree appears to overload, I did not see any limbs loaded so heavily they could break. Harvest is mid-season with nut drop roughly the 15th of October. IMO, this pecan would make an excellent yard tree and has commercial potential so long as small size is acceptable.
RH-3 is possibly a Pointe Coupee seedling (correct me if wrong Max!) with elongated slight football shape. Disease and pest resistance appeared to be excellent. Commercial potential is very high for this pecan. Size is about 58 per pound with about 55% kernel.
I brought home 3 bags of nuts that I intend to plant and grow into producing trees. One bag is Gafford that were grown beside Excel with very strong potential that they pollinated each other. The potential in this cross is for better nut quality than Gafford and better disease and pest resistance than Excel. One bag is Syrup Mill that was planted with Gafford as a pollinator. Syrup Mill has exceptionally good kernel quality and Gafford has heavy production plus exceptional disease and pest resistance. Some of the Syrup Mill may have been pollinated by nearby Forkert trees which could be a very good combination for size and nut quality. The third bag is Forkert which is planted beside a row of Jackson. Both share the same genetic heritage as crosses of Success X Schley. Jackson is more disease resistant than Forkert but has lower production potential. Forkert has better production and nut quality but less disease resistance.
Max was an exceptionally good host who set aside 6 hours from a very busy day to talk with two interested amateurs. He loves to talk and he talks a LOT about pecans!