Researchers at the University of California, Davis have bred a new walnut variety for California growers. After more than 10 years of development, the new UC Wolfskill walnut variety holds considerable promise. The variety is very similar to Chandler but will offer growers a slightly different timeline for harvest.
“It will be earlier harvesting than Chandler, which has been a main driver of the program. To try to spread the harvest dates available for growers to make more efficient use of field harvesting equipment and drying capacity,” said Chuck Leslie, UC Davis Walnut Improvement Program breeder and specialist. “Many of the traits will be similar to Chandler in terms of yield and tree structure. This one has very good color and also cracks out well in halves.”
The Chandler variety has become very popular with growers in recent years. Chandler makes up more than half of all walnut acreage. Leslie noted that a primary driver of their research efforts has been towards an earlier harvest window. “[UC Wolfskill] will leaf out the later part of March and harvest mid-to later September, well ahead of Chandler. We’re estimating 12 to 14 days ahead of Chandler,” said Leslie.
Researchers used an open pollination method for the new walnut variety. The UC Wolfskill was derived from a cross between Chandler and Solano varieties. After more than a decade of work, UC Wolfskill has been made available to California nurseries. Nurseries interested in the new walnut variety can obtain a license from UC Davis InnovationAccess.
“It takes a long time, typically 15 to 20 years to develop a new variety by the time we get it tested and make a decision,” Leslie noted. “We’re very optimistic about this one. We’ve had a lot of good feedback from growers in grower trials and it’s looking good.”
Listen to the interview below.