Monday, May 29, 2023

Theft, Illness, drought and grafting

On Saturday I mowed about a quarter of the yard. Then I went in the house. Before I could say a thing, Southern Belle and Handsome Hombre filed out the door and finished the job.

Admittedly, the yard looked pretty bad. I picked the quarter where I could go from one end of the yard to the other...right up the middle.

Theft; not so much

Realizing that the fleet of push-mowers was showing its age, Mrs ERJ and I went to a Lansing big-box store and purchased a brand-new push mower.

After sliding the boxed mower into the back of the truck, Mrs ERJ fretted about finishing our grocery shopping at the Walmart next door. "Somebody might steal it" she said.

Looking at the box, which clearly stated that it held a push-mower and that much assembly was required, I told her that it looked like a lot of work and most folks wouldn't steal a tool that generated sweat and guilt.

Then I reminded her that the safest place to wait out a riot was inside of a Red Wings Work Boot store.

We did our grocery shopping and the box was still in the back of the truck when we came back.

The cold

The issue was a cold and not allergies. I am in the late stages where chunks coming up from my lungs when I cough.

HH agreed to go for a run with me this morning. I think he wanted to keep an eye on me. We did a slow, easy 2.5 miles and a half-mile walking cool-down. I am feeling the strain in my left calf right now. I am miles better than I was but still have a ways to go.


Michigan continues to enjoy Southern California weather with 30 degree F temperatures swings between day and night.

I have been running the sprinklers at night and the trickle irrigation in the orchard by day.

I have also engaged in a pogrom to exterminate thistles. Canadian thistles are the worst. They spread underground and take over large swaths of the pasture. I have been spraying with 2,4-D, the amide formulation. 2,4-D has a couple of advantages. It does not kill the grass around the thistles so it does not expose bare ground which is vulnerable to recolonization by more thistles. It also visibly changes the thistles after a few days. I can come back and hit the ones I missed in the first pass-through.


After a slow start, I did some grafting today.

My driveway is lined with mature pecan trees. All of them are Type I pollinators except for a single Type II. That creates a genetic bottleneck because all seedlings will be either pollinated by the single Type II or will be a seedling of that Type II.

I sent word of my dilemma to Lucky in Kentucky. Lucky has taken me under his wing and gently tries to teach me the ways of goodness and least in terms of grafting nut trees.

He sent me a sampler pack of three types of Type II pollinator: Kanza, Oswego and Posey. He also sent me a half dozen types of Shellbark Hickory varieties.

Today I grafted five Posey, two Oswego pecans, and two each of Fayette, Fayette Seedling and Lebanon Junction Shellbark hickories.

The process was a little more involved than usual. Due to the dryness, I soaked each seedling I grafted over for five minutes from the end of the hose. That SHOULD have been about 25 gallons of water. Thirsty trees do not readily accept grafts.

I had no intention of grafting that many Posey but the scion wood was of such astonishingly good quality I could not resist throwing it on every tree that might take it. I saved one seedling for Kanza, which I have soaking to plump up the wood.

I fully expect to be able to get great crops from the Shellbark hickory trees but am more interested in the pollen and the seedlings of the pecans than I am interested in getting any meaningful crop.

For future reference

Oswego: The Oswego Pecan is a seedling of the great old variety Green River selected by Dr. William Ried at KSU. Northern Pecan Blogspot Oswego was chosen for its excellent disease resistance and heavy annual production. Oswego is another easy shelling High quality nut. Oswego makes large pecans at 66 to 70 nuts per lb. Pollen shed type 2. Pecans are hardy in zones 5 to 9.

Posey: Native selection from Gibson County, IN, introduced in 1911 by W. C. Reed. Nut: oval elliptic with an acute apex and obtuse base; laterally compressed in cross section with raised suture; 63 nuts/lb, 54% kernel; kernels light brown in color, with prominent secondary dorsal grooves. Protogynous bloom pattern. Late to break buds in the spring. Resistant to scab. Early nut maturation. Kernels have a "buttery" taste but the skin darkens soon after ripening. Recommended (1990) for planting in KS, KY, MO and TN. 

Kanza: 'Kanza' was released because of its superior productivity, quality, disease resistance and cold tolerance. 'Kanza' is not a precocious cultivar, but has good productivity as a mature tree. Alternate bearing has been a problem with 'Kanza', but nut quality in high production years is good. 'Kanza' produces a small but very attractive round kernel similar to 'Elliott'. 'Kanza' was primarily released for use in the northern pecan growing regions due to its excellent cold hardiness. Its early maturity and small size makes it susceptible to predator damage when only a few trees are planted. So far, 'Kanza' appears to have excellent resistance to scab.

Fayette Shellbark: A very large nut, the size of a walnut. It is a well-filled and annually productive shellbark. It has the typical hard shell of the shellbark hickories but it cracks out in halves with the Duke Nut Cracker fairly easily. The nuts are mid to late October ripening. In a cool year the nuts can take an extra month to drop, but they remain in good shape for consumption. Suited for zones 6-8.

Lebanon Junction: A selection from wild found in Lebanon Junction, Kentucky. When cracked, the halves drop out "like cookies".


  1. About 5 years ago, I bought a Briggs&Stratton push mower. It was the biggest POC ever! I'm in my 50's and have been mowing lawns with them since I was 12 and never had a problem starting them, even after long Indiana winters... This new one would never start, even after a bunch of plastic carb changes. I finally just rolled it out to the road and someone took it. Went back to big box store. Noticed all the B*S now had printed on them 'guaranteed start' - guess the word had gotten out. This time I bought a Honda and have been happy with it.

    Mr. ERJ - your blessed - many folks have family living with them that won't lift a hand to help. Blessed you are.

  2. I love fruit and nut trees and any information is good.
    Push mowers not so much.
    I have carried a worn round nose shovel and a slightly bent 6' digging bar in the back of my truck for 25 years, no one has ever taken them.

  3. Good Lord!
    2 of my new pecan trees died over the winter (want to replace).
    I live near Kentucky (eastTN).
    I went to school in Oswego for 4 years!
    Does this Lucky person have a retail store or website?

    1. Not that I know of.

      You might look at this site

      He has a huge selection of pecan varieties that should do well in your area. Like every other place you shop, his prices are up but what are you going to do?

      If you have any seedling pecans in your yard you can take a whack at grafting them.

    2. Much obliged Sir!

    3. Planted a Hark and a Kanza from Rock Bridge here in SW Idaho near Boise. Fingers crossed.

    4. Rock Bridge and Perfect Circle have been my “go to” folks when planting my hican orchard. Both are responsive, have great selection, excellent shipping practices and competitive pricing

  4. type I pollinator? Type II?

    Explain, please.

    1. Apologies.

      Type I shed their pollen before their female parts (the pistils) are receptive. That is how they avoid self-pollinating. Self-pollination results in in-breeding depression and a downward spiral if vigor and increasing susceptibility to genetic disorders.

      Type II shed their pollen AFTER their female parts are receptive.

      To get a good set of pecans, growers will have a main variety and will choose a second variety that ripens at the same time and is similar enough in shape to market as the main variety. The second variety will be of the OTHER type to ensure clouds of pollen when the main variety's pistils are receptive.

      And now you have had a lesson on pecans and the sex pistils.

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  6. You are blessed in your son-in-law and daughter, ERJ.

    I suspect a great many people have no idea what to do with a push mower anymore.


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