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New pecan tree yields high quality, resists scab disease

PECAN GROWERS will appreciate a new strong-growing tree that produces high-quality nuts and possesses natural resistance to scab disease. The new variety, Nacono, was developed by the researchers with the Agricultural Research Service and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station.

ARS is the chief research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The ARS researchers selected Nacono from a cross between Cheyenne and Sioux, both well-known to growers for their high-quality nuts and scab resistance.

Nacono is unique because its natural scab resistance allows it to be grown in most Southern pecan-producing states and in most other pecan production areas of the world. Scab disease is most damaging to pecan trees grown east of central Texas. Scab is a fungal disease that attacks both nuts and leaves. For disease control, some growers spray fungicides as many as 10 times a year.

ARS researchers in College Station evaluated Nacono's performance beginning in 1986. Through 1995, cumulative yields of Nacono were higher than Pawnee, a popular variety grown worldwide.

Pecans are a multimillion-dollar industry. Rural landowners in the Southwest and Southeast derive primary or supplemental income from growing pecan trees in orchards or woodland pastures. In 1999, U.S. pecan production was about 342 million pounds, with a value of nearly $448 million. Georgia, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Louisiana are the top five pecan-producing states.

Graftwood from Nacono will be available only to nurseries in February 2001. Nurseries could have trees to sell to the public in early 2003. (USDA does not distribute trees.) Trees of this variety will be incorporated into the ARS National Plant Germplasm System, so that Nacono will be available for research purposes, including development and commercialization of new varieties. The database for the National Plant Germplasm System can be found on the Web at: USDA's pecan breeding program is the only national pecan breeding program in the world.

Scientific contact: Tommy E. Thompson, ARS Crop Germplasm Research Unit, College Station, Texas, phone 979-272-1402, fax 979-272-1401,

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