Pecan Trees, Squirrels & Crows

[Originally posted on September 22, 2011]

Not only does a pecan grower monitor disease and insect pests to protect his pecan crop year in and year out, he also has to monitor crows and squirrels.

Squirrels start damaging pecans as they are sizing up in late July and early August and throughout harvest. According to the University of Florida, it has been estimated that one tiny squirrel can easily consume 50 pounds of nuts per year. These pesky critters hoard and bury up to two pounds of pecans per day not caring if the nuts are green or immature. Squirrels also damage delicate twigs, limbs and foliage of the pecan trees. Some people utilize live traps to trap and relocate the squirrels, but we find that declaring “war” on squirrels during hunting season is the most effective. Squirrels make good GUMBO!

One can always tell when the pecans are ready to harvest by noticing when the crows show up. One crow can damage up to fifteen pounds of pecans per month. Crows are very intelligent birds and can be quite a challenge to control. We have hung dead crows from pecan trees to discourage their buddies from returning to that area. Those hanging crows are what we call “CROW ORNAMENTS“. We have also used propane propelled devises that go off periodically resembling the sound of a gun. This works for a short while until the crows get used to it.

Riding through the orchard one can see many squirrels running below the trees and many crows flying above the trees so it is time to get prepared for the “WAR“!

Mid July 2011

[Originally posted on July 25, 2011]

Last week we got a couple of showers in the pecan orchard.  Over an inch on one day and then about a half inch the next day.  Pecans are continuing to size up nicely.  As always there are always a few limbs that break so limb picking up is a continuous process.  Crows and squirrels seem to be showing up more and more so we will need to get our plan together as to how to take care of those pesky varmits.

Company News July 2011

[Originally posted on July 1, 2011]

There appears to be a good nut set on the trees this season.  However, even with a good nut set water is so critical for pecan trees .  We have been in a drought cycle this spring with only a few showers.  Last week we finally received some substantial rainfall – a total a four inches over a period of two to three days.  Seems like overnight the grass under the trees turned from brown to green.  The tiny nutlets are increasing in size daily.  With the temperatures in the upper 90′s and low 100′s we will need more rain in the next couple of weeks.  Mark is getting ready to spray for second generation casebearer.  He will also include a fungicide for scab.

We attended the annual Tri-State Pecan Growers meeting in Bossier City mid June.  It was great to catch up with fellow pecan growers and get up to date information on new products for insect and disease control in the pecan orchard.  As always there is still plenty to do at this “NUT FARM”!  That is all for now as it is time to go check on the guys that are picking up limbs.

Little Eva Pecan Store By Charla Jones

[Originally posted December 8, 2010]

They’ve gone completely nuts in Cloutierville, LA!

“We talk nuts, we grow nuts, we crack nuts; we’re just plain nutty.”

That’s Julie Swanson’s joking way of describing her family’s business Natchitoches Pecans, Inc. in the heart of pecan country along old Highway 1 in central Louisiana.

Swanson, her husband, mother, brother and sister and their spouses own and operate the pecan orchard and retail outlet, Little Eva Pecan Store, in Cloutierville, LA., providing locals and visitors a variety of pecans during the fall season, the peak of pecan harvesting.

“We sell pecan products and items with Louisiana flair,” Swanson says. “We also have a cleaning business where people bring their pecans for us to clean.”

In addition to purchasing pecans, visitors can buy many different pecan products such as pecan meal, candied pecans and pecan oil. Also, on the menu at the Little Eva Pecan Store are a variety items unique to the sound and taste of the L-shaped state. Most all items can be purchased online or through mail-order year round.

“I grew up a farm girl. My family was always in farming, but we didn’t know the first thing about a pecan orchard when we bought part of the plantation. But since we’ve been on this journey, we’ve learned a lot,” Swanson says.

Natchitoches Pecans, Inc. began when Swanson and her family bought a portion of the original Little Eva Plantation when it was put up for sale in 1986. Little Eva was owned by Sterling C. Evans and Gus Wortham in the mid-part of the 20th century.

“Evans and Wortham were friends who would buy distressed properties, bring them back to life and sell them,” Swanson says.

According to Swanson, Evans, after completing research of his property which was originally Hidden Hill Plantation, named the property Little Eva after the character Evangeline in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Area folklore states that Stowe visited Hidden Hill Plantation.

“The pecan trees were planted in the 1950s,” Swanson notes. At one time the pecan orchard was one of the largest of its kind at approximately 10,000 acres.

However, the property was put up for sale in the 1970s and eventually broken up for sale again in 1986 when the Swanson’s placed an offer for approximately 450 acres. Swanson said even Elvis Presley was interested in the property in the 1970s, but apparently Evans was not impressed with the king of rock and roll’s plans for the beloved orchard.

“When the Taylor’s owned the property in the 1970s, they tore down the plantation’s original home that had been used as a hospital during the Civil War,” Swanson adds.

Even though their pecan business has been sweet, in 2005, the Swanson’s big warehouse, where they clean and process the pecans, was destroyed by fire; but neither destruction nor tough years have deterred the family from enjoying the nutty fruit of their labor.

“We just keep growing. Our mail-order business continues to grow a little every year,” she says.

“It’s been tough years, but some really good years. It’s funny, but no two years are anyway similar. That’s just the nature of the business.”

Little Eva Pecan store  is located on Highway 1 in the small community of Cloutierville, a once thriving community along the famous Cane River in the plantation area of central Louisiana. During the peak pecan season from October to December, the store is open every day and then on Fridays and Saturdays during the rest of the year.

While visiting Little Eva, make a trip around the historical area of the Cane River to Melrose Plantation, one of the renowned plantation homes. The area is also home to the late American folk artist Clementine Hunter and late American novelist Kate Chopin. Hunter was born on Hidden Hill Plantation.

For more information about Little Eva Pecan Store, visit their website at www.natchitochespecans.com.

By Charla Jones 12/7/2010

2010 Pecan Harvest

[Originally published in October 29, 2010]

The 2010 pecan harvest at Little Eva Plantation has finally begun. The 2010 crop is 3 weeks later maturing than the 2009 pecan crop was. The lack of rain has delayed shuck split. However the few nuts that we have pulled from some of the shucks appear to be plenty full. Our Elliott and Candy variety are coming in with the Elliotts as usual being exceptional. This variety is our favorite for all uses. Some people prefer the larger pecans but once they taste the Elliott they convert to being Elliott lovers! From what we are hearing across the pecan industry it appears that the fancy gift quality pecans will be in tight supply. With China now in the mix of competing for American grown pecans, prices are moving upward. The holiday season is upon us so if you are wondering what to give this year look no further – as PECANS are the perfect gift!! Order early and remember We are Nuts about PECANS!!!

Pecan Recipe – Caramelized Onion, Smoked Gouda and Pecan Rice Tart

[Originally posted September 1, 2010]

This side dish features two kinds of cheese, nuts and vegetables baked together to tasty perfection.  It’s quick and easy to prepare with the help of cooked rice.

 

Caramelized Onion, Smoked Gouda and Pecan Rice Tart

2 Tablespoons butter

4 cups sliced sweet mild onion

3 cups cooked rice

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

3 eggs

2 cups shredded smoked Gouda cheese

3/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sliced onion and saute for eight to 10 minutes, stirring periodically, until onions are browned and caramelized.  You can hasten the caramelizing by adding 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar to the onions just as they become translucent.

Meanwhile, combine rice, Parmesan cheese and eggs in a medium bowl.  Press the mixture into bottom of a 10-inch removable-bottom pan.  Distribute onion over crust and top with smoked Gouda and pecans.  Bake in preheated oven 12 to 15 minutes, until pecans are toasted.

Makes six servings.

Taken from Mid-South Farmer

Hickory Shuckworm

[Originally posted on August 14, 2010]

The adult hickory shuckworm (Cydia caryana) is a small moth.  Before shell hardening, larvae tunnel into nuts, causing them to drop.  Entrance holes can often be detected by a white stain around the hole.  After pecan shells harden, larvae tunnel in the shucks and prevent kernels from developing properly.  Heavily infested nuts are likely to be poorly filled and mature later than pest-free nuts.  Injured portions of the shucks may stick to the nut shell interfering with processing and staining the shells.

Shuckworms overwinter as larvae in shucks on the ground or in trees.  Moths may begin to appear in mid-February but most moths may continue to appear well into summer.  Early in the spring, the shuckworm feeds primarily on native hickory and is often found in phylloxera galls on pecan trees.  Thus,  one of the most effective control strategies for hickory shuckworm is targeting of phylloxera galls in the spring.    Several generations of shuckworm occur each year.   Few pecan nuts become infested with shuckworms before June.  Pecans are most susceptible to damage from the shuckworm during the water through gel stages.

Until recently the standard tool for monitoring of shuckworm was a blacklight trap.  If using a blacklight trap, use at least two per orchard for sampling.  Operate traps at least three nights per week and check after each night’s operation, beginning in early June.  Apply shuckworm control when there is an increase in the number of shuckworm moths in blacklight catches for three consecutive trapping periods and when the number of captured moths reaches seven in any one blacklight trap;  or when four or more moths are caught in any blacklight trap for three trapping periods.  Pheromone traps are also available.  If pheromone traps are used, treat according to the guidelines provided for the traps.

If an orchard has a past history of high incidence of nut drop caused by hickory shuckworm prior to shell hardening , apply a shuckworm spray during June.  Monitor and continue sprays until pecans reach the half-shell hardening stage based on blacklight and or pheromone traps.

Taken from Bugwoodwiki