Burchell Nursery has developed a new commercial almond tree that can be called a stand-alone variety. The Lone Star, the result of 11 years of painstaking crosses, is finally shining bright.
Ron Boone, a Burchell field representative, says the quality of the nuts produced by Lone Star is excellent, and the kernel blanches well. âWe showed it to handlers and they were very favorable,â he says. âThey said it was just like Nonpareil so the grower should get a good price.â
The variety blooms early, about four days before Nonpareil, and it harvests about 7-10 days after. Some researchers think the production will go down in self-compatible trees as they age, Boone says, as they will essentially become less self-compatible. Because of that, Burchell is recommending a 90% Lone Star to 10% Nonpareil planting ratio. âIn the almond business, weâre all about production,â he says, âso we just think itâs a prudent way to plant long term.â
Compatible With Others
Besides being self-compatible and pollinating Nonpareil, Lone Star also pollinates Avalon, Wood Colony, Price, Aldrich, and Monterey. In talking with growers, Boone says they value high returns, but also want a safety net. âIf they have 100 acres, and all 100 acres blooms at once and a storm comes, theyâre stuck,â he says. âThey need to spread out risk as far as the weather is concerned.â
Lone Star is also a large, vigorous tree which can provide advantages, says Boone. âThereâs somethingÂ toÂ be said for vigor,â he says. âIf you have a heavy crop load and you have high vigor you can still set a nice crop the following year.â
In addition, the nuts are not bunched together on Lone Star, as they tend to do on some almond varieties. âItâs not a âclusteryâ type,â he says. âIt distributes the crop load evenly which limits limb breakage.â
More To Come
Lone Star will be available on a limited basis in 2015, says Boone, and will be fully available in 2016. The variety was developed by Burchellâs own John Slaughter, who Boone says is the industryâs only in-house plant breeder. The first and only other self-compatible variety to be made commercially available, Dave Wilson Nurseryâs Independence, was developed by Zaiger Genetics.
Boone says Slaughter is keeping busy, and Lone Star is likely the first in a series of self-compatible almond varieties that will be introduced by Burchell, as a couple others may be unveiled in the next few years. âThe harvest and bloom time would be different than Lone Star so youâd get some diversification,â he says. âWe want to let the grower spread the risk.â