There is always a “To Do” list when you own a pecan orchard and limbs and pruning are what rises to the top of that list this time of year. The 2014 Pecan Harvest is complete but there are limbs all over the orchard floor. As you look across the orchard one can see small piles and some giant piles of limbs left in open areas that were moved from beneath the trees before the pecan harvesters could begin their job of picking the pecans. Every minute is precious during harvest season to get the crop harvested as quickly as possible so limbs are just piled to the side to be picked up later. Additionally, one can see some broken limbs that are stuck and or partially hanging from the trees. These broken limbs and “hangers” need removing prior to the next season. These limbs are easier viewed when the trees are naked.
February and March is a good time to remove any limbs that may have interfered with the harvesting process also. That means limbs that hung too low and got in the way of the harvesters as they circled the trees. Removing these low limbs will allow better spray coverage and better air movement in the lower canopy, thereby improving disease control for the upcoming season. The correct way to cut a large limb – Make the undercut followed by the overcut, followed by the final cut at the collar to minimize the chance of stripping bark. Cutting in this manner allows the tree to callous or close the wound until the short piece rots or breaks off. A properly cut limb will not be cut flush with the trunk surface, but leave a little collar.
Pruning time is also the right time to collect graftwood for whip, four-flap, and inlay-bark grafts. The parent trees should be vigorous, free of insects, disease, or environmental damage.
It’s time to go find some matches and get started on burning all those piles of limbs…..