Pecan Crop Prediction is 256 Million Pounds

The 2014 Tri-State Pecan Growers Conference was held in Alexandria, Louisiana from June 19-20.  Growers attending were from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas.  At the conclusion of the meeting the much anticipated pecan crop guesstimate was given by Ben Littlepage of Colfax, Louisiana.  The 2014 U.S. Pecan Crop estimate by Mr. Littlepage was 256 million pounds.

Following is the state-by-state prediction for the 2014 pecan crop:

Alabama ……………………………9.0 million lbs.

Arizona ……………………………18.0 million lbs.

Arkansas ……………………………3.0 million lbs.

California ……………………………4.0 million lbs.

Florida ……………………………….1.0 million lbs.

Georgia …………………………….65.0 million lbs.

Kansas ……………………………….2.0 million lbs.

Louisiana ………………………….16.0 million lbs.

Mississippi ………………………….1.0 million lbs.

Missouri ……………………………..1.0 million lbs.

New Mexico ……………………….55.0 million lbs.

North Carolina ……………………..0.5 million lbs.

Oklahoma …………………………..15.0 million lbs.

South Carolina ……………………..0.5 million lbs.

Texas ………………………………..65.0 million lbs.

U.S. Total ………………………….256 million lbs.

Participants toured two local pecan orchards over the course of the two days. The Inglewood Orchard and Harvest Barn became a certified organic operation last year, after the required 3-year period of not using synthetic management methods.  This orchard is around 80 acres.  Trey Decker with Inglewood Farm presented the group with information about this farm’s operation.   The second orchard toured was Rosalie Plantation.  This farm is centered around a picturesque antebellum sugarmill and includes approximately 100 acres of improved pecan trees .

Other speakers included Charlie Graham from the LSU Pecan Research Station, Bill Goff retired from Auburn University Horticulture and George Ray McEachern from Texas A&M University.  Information about pecan orchard management, specifically about orchard spacing, thinning and hedging was discussed.  Pest and disease control as well as updates on the future of pecan research in Louisiana were talked about also.

Louisiana pecan growers in particular say that this year’s crop in each pecan orchard looks to be good compared to the last couple of years as it has not been as dry.  However – all wise pecan growers know – Do not count your nuts before they are in the bag!

Pecans in the Bag

Pecans in the Bag

National Pecan Pie Day

National Pecan Pie Day is annually celebrated on July 12.  With that being said everyone needs to be sure they have shelled pecans on hand to make this delicious dessert.

What is pecan pie?  Wikipedia.org defines pecan pie as a pie made primarily with corn syrup and pecan nuts.  Variations may include white or brown sugar, sugar syrup, molasses, maple syrup, or honey.  It is popularly served at holiday meals and is also considered a specialty of  Southern U.S. cuisine. Most pecan recipes for this pie include salt and vanilla as flavorings. Chocolate and bourbon whiskey are other popular additions to the recipe.  Pecan pie is often served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. 

Pecan pie is actually French in origin.  The first American pecan pies were baked by French immigrants living in New Orleans.  Many years later, the Karo company popularized this creation with recipes that called for the company’s corn syrup as one of the ingredients.  The recipe below is simple to prepare so try it and let us know how it turned out!

 

Happy Pecan Pie Day

Happy Pecan Pie Day

 

 


Pecan Varieties Recommended for the Louisiana Homeowner

Each year as visitors come into our Natchitoches Pecans pecan store at Little Eva Plantation the conversation comes up about what pecan varieties are best to plant for the homeowner in Louisiana.  Not all pecan varieties are suited for the homeowner.

There are important factors to consider before choosing a variety.  The most important factor to consider is scab disease resistance.  Varieties highly susceptible to scab should be avoided.  Schley, Wichita and Desirable are highly susceptible to scab and should not be planted because of their need to be sprayed.  The control of scab is one of the most expensive costs of pecan production.  Commercial managed orchards have access to high-pressure spray equipment necessary for spraying the pecan trees whereas the ordinary homeowner cannot afford this type of equipment.

Another factor to consider when choosing a variety for home plantings is cross-pollination.  Cross-pollination improves the quantity and quality of nuts produced.   Unless there are other pecan plantings within a 1/4-mile radius, varieties of pecan trees with opposite blooming characteristics should be planted near each other to improve cross-pollination.

The following are varieties that we recommend:

CANDY – these are small nuts (~66 nuts/lb.) with thick shells and high-quality kernels  that have a high oil content with good color.  Meat yield can be 45%.  The trees are vigorous and can begin to bear in four to five years, but may tend to alternate bear as the tree ages.

Views of Pecan Nuts and Shell

Candy – Views Pecan of Nuts and Shell

ELLIOTT – these are small teardrop shaped nuts (~67 nuts/lb.) with a thick shell and  bright high quality kernels.  Meat yield can be 53%.  The nuts have excellent cracking characteristics.  This is a very scab-resistant variety and also a favorite root stock cultivar.  Trees bear in six to eight years.

Elliott - Views of Pecan Nuts and Shells

Elliott – Views of Pecan Nuts and Shells

MELROSE – these are medium-large oblong nuts  (~53 nuts/lb.) with a medium shell and bright kernels.  Meat yield can be 55%.  Nuts crack well and the trees bear in six to eight years. This variety has moderate scab resistance.

Melrose - Views of Pecan Nuts and Shells

Melrose – Views of Pecan Nuts and Shells

SUMNER – these are medium-large nuts (~48 nuts/lb.) with a medium shell and  good quality kernels.  Meat yield can be 53%.  Trees can bear at a relatively early age – five to six years.  This variety has excellent scab resistance.

Sumner - Views of Pecan Nuts and Shells

Sumner – Views of Pecan Nuts and Shells

 

On  average, pecan production adds about $12 million to Louisiana’s economy each year and as everyone knows no holiday is complete without a pecan pie!

About Clementine Hunter

Hidden Hill Plantation, now known as Little Eva Plantation was the birthplace of Louisiana’s famous primitive folk artist Clementine Hunter.  Clementine was born the oldest of seven children to Antoinette Adams and Janvier Reuben.  When she was five, her family moved from Little Eva Plantation into the town of Cloutierville.  Around the age of fifteen, Clementine moved to where she would spend the rest of her life, Melrose Plantation.  It was here at Melrose where she would receive inspiration for the art work that has made her one of America’s most famous folk artists.

The Natchitoches Pecans Gift Shop is proud to offer Clementine Hunter inspired items such as ornaments, magnets, serving pieces of dishware  and gallery quality reproduction canvases by Gitter Gallery.  The book Clementine Hunter: Her Life is also available.  Go to  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Clementine-Hunter/629265207163688  to view lots of our Clementine inspired items.

The Clementine Hunter Collection by gittergallery

The Clementine Hunter Collection by gittergallery

Pecan Bloom in Pecan Orchard at Natchitoches Pecans Inc

May in the pecan orchard at Little Eva Plantation is abuzz with the orchard in full pecan bloom.  There is nothing quite as beautiful  than looking through the lush green of the pecan trees and the orchard floor this time of year.  The pecan bloom for 2014 looks to be good.  Most of the pecan trees have lots of catkins on them.

Pecan orchard in pecan bloom at Little Eva Plantation

Pecan orchard in pecan bloom at Little Eva Plantation

Pecan trees produce two kinds of flowers.  As a rule, the two types of flowers do not mature at the same time, so a tree usually cannot fertilize itself.  So it is very important to match varieties in an orchard that can pollinate and fertilize each other.  The catkins (male flowers) appear as long strings hanging from the limbs and release pollen.  When the wind blows in gusts we have observed “yellow dust clouds” coming from the tree.

Catkins - the male flowers

Catkins – the male flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pistillate (female flowers) appear at the end of the pecan shoots.  Stigmas on the female flowers are receptive to pollen when they are glossy.  They are past receptivity when they begin to dry and turn brown.  Not all female flowers will become a mature pecan.  They may fall off if not pollinated or be aborted by the tree during stress periods such as  heavy crop load or drought before reaching maturity.

Tiny female flowers past receptivity

Tiny female flowers past receptivity

Receptive female flowers

Receptive female flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay tuned for updates on the current pecan growing season…another year as a pecan grower and I am still  finding myself becoming ” nuttier than ever”.

 

 

 

Horse Print Socks For Sale In Our Retail Pecan Store Called The Nuthouse

Horse Print Socks For Sale In Our Retail Pecan Store Called The Nuthouse

Cute socks that have a matching night shirts can be seen at the Nuthouse.  The Nuthouse is currently open Thursdays through Saturdays 9am to 5pm. Night shirt that matches these socks says “I need my booty sleep!”  Come into our retail pecan store to check out these and other extremely cute items that make great gifts.  Order our fresh pecans online and have them delivered directly to your house if you can’t wait to come in to our retail shop!

Horse Print Socks For Sale In The Retail Pecan Store Called The Nuthouse

Pecan Budbreak in Central Louisiana

Pecan budbreak is apparent in the pecan orchard here at Little Eva Plantation.  We first began noticing the buds swelling on the tips of the pecan limbs in late March and tiny bits of the green baby leaves started showing their appearance the first couple of days of this month.  Each morning brings a noticeable progression of pecan leaf growth.  Within the next seven to ten days the pecan orchard should be all green and beautiful again.  The grass is already green under the trees as Mark has applied the first application of fertilizer for the 2014 pecan crop.  In just a few days it will be time for the first fungicide application to help control pecan scab.  It will also be important that an insecticide spray be applied at this time also to control pecan phylloxera.  Phylloxera are tiny, aphid like critters that stimulate the formation of galls on the pecan leaves and shoots by feeding on the tender plant tissue early in the season.  These insects are hard to see as they are so small but the damage they cause is easy to see – lots of green balls that can be so bad as to completely defoliate a tree if left untreated.

Louisiana Pecan Budbreak

Louisiana Pecan Budbreak

 

Start of 2014 Pecan Crop

Time flies as they say and if you are a pecan grower time travels at warp speed!  Our 2013 pecan harvest was very good.  The weather was decent which enabled us to get our pecan crop into the warehouse in a timely manner.  Our walk-in pecan store retail business was very brisk and our mail order business showed a substantial increase in sales.  The first two months of 2014 were very busy as this is the time when I dig out from under my stacks of paperwork, compile figures for the accountant, reflect on the recent business year, and access what our plan for the current year will consist of.

Who would have thought that Little Eva Plantation would see snow on four different occasions within the last six weeks.  It will only be a few short weeks before pecan bud break.  Our orchard crew is busy picking up limbs, cutting down any dead or diseased pecan trees, and burning the piles of limbs.  We will be pruning the young trees that were planted last year and have around 100 new trees that will need to be planted this year…as always lots, lots, and more to do at this Nut Farm!

 

 

Louisiana Conservation Magazine Article

Here is a great article that was written a few months ago about how we utilize as much of our resources on the orchard to conserve.

“Conservation is making the most of what you’ve got,” said Mark Swanson. “We do our best to take care of the land, our trees, and our cattle—and we leave the rest to the man above.”

 

From Louisiana Conservation Magazine – January 2014 (1MB PDF) – How Natchitoches Pecans makes a little go a long way.

Louisiana Conservation Magazine - Jan 2014 - Natchitoches Pecans Article

 

Christmas Is Coming Fast In The Pecan House

The way the pecan house phone has been ringing this week has reminded me of how busy last year was the week of Christmas!!!  If this week is any indication of what is about to break loose for pecan gift orders I better call the North Pole to see if Santa can send me some of his elves to help us out.  I would even offer to rent them from him – LOL!   The ladies that work in our pecan store and packaging building are busy from the time they get to work until the lights go out when they leave.  I have named them my “Pecan Elves” !

It is very important to get your pecan orders placed to ensure availability.  Once our stash of scrumptious fresh pecans, pecan candies, pecan pralines, and pecan gift tins are depleted, customers that have waited too long to get their orders in will be disappointed to hear ” Sorry we are unable to fill your pecan order because we are SOLD OUT!”

 

Bye for now – gotta go get paper work ready for ship outs tomorrow…..