Growing And Managing A Pecan Orchard

Growing And Managing A Pecan OrchardIf you’re looking to establish your very own pecan orchard, there are many things you need to consider before going into this possible business endeavor. Pecan orchards take a lot of time, careful planning and management, and a well-planned, well organized orchard will always prove to be more efficient and require less input than one which is not. To help you along your journey as a proud pecan orchard owner, we’ve decided to go over a few basics and characteristics your pecan orchard should have to get you started. Continue reading

Transplanting Bucket Grown Pecan Trees

Recycled tub acts as water source for transplanted trees.

This gallery contains 3 photos.

In addition to the commercial importance of pecans, pecan trees add much to the beauty of the home or farm.  Pecan trees should be planted in solid blocks for commercial production.  For home use they can be planted along borders, ditch banks, fences, or in the lawn at least forty feet from buildings. Container grown […]

Pecan Orchard – Limbs and Pruning

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.

Little Eva Plantation

Naked Pecan Trees

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…..

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!

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”.

 

 

 

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

 

Growing Pecans in June

This pecan growing season is moving right along.  Mark has just finished applying our third scab spray.   The amount of damage caused by pecan scab varies according to each growing season and cultivar.  Pecan scab is our most costly expense during most growing seasons since our orchard is over 50% of Desirable cultivar and Desirable is not resistant to scab.  Pecan scab thrives in moist humid conditions and if not controlled both pecan yield and pecan quality are affected.  Louisiana is well known for humid conditions.  Stuart and Elliott cultivars are somewhat scab resistant which is a blessing.  New plantings of  Sumner cultivar are scab resistant also.

Within  the next couple of weeks it will be time to spray for Second Generation Pecan Casebearer…always something to monitor and do at this nut farm to bring you great quality pecans…must be why we tend to all be NUTS around here!!!

 

May In The Pecan Orchard – Pecan Casebearer Moth

The month of May is quite busy in the pecan orchard at Little Eva Plantation. Well to tell the truth – all twelve months of the year are busy! One thing so important in May is the correct timing of an insecticide spray to control the pesky pecan casebearer moth. These moths will lay eggs on the tiny pecan nutlets and when these eggs hatch one larvae can consume all of the cluster.

One casebearer larvae can destroy this entire cluster of tiny nutlets.

One casebearer larvae can destroy this entire cluster of tiny nutlets.

The moths usually start showing up in May as the weather begins warming up. Mark hangs the casebearer traps from the pecan trees in different areas of the orchard .  The traps have phermone bait in them that attract the moths. Mark monitors the traps daily and when he starts seeing the moth count start to significantly increase, he checks the weather forecast, orders the necessary chemicals, fuels up his tractor and pecan sprayer and goes to spraying. It usually takes two to three days to completely cover all the orchard. However, we have been having 10-25 mph winds on most days this May so Mark has had to spray a lot at night when the wind dies down.  A fungicide and a mixture of micro nutrients was  included in this spray too.  The fungicide will help to control scab.  The micro nutrients will be absorbed by the leaves and contribute to a healthier tree.   It is so important to take good care of the pecan trees so that the trees will produce very good quality fancy pecans that we make available on our website and at our retail store for purchase.

Spring in the Pecan Orchard

It is hard to believe Spring is finally here!  As always things are always busy in the pecan orchard.  The pecan trees are have been pushing noticeable leaf growth out daily.  Male catkins are showing up from top to bottom of each tree.  Catkins release pollen when mature.  Female flowers will be showing up soon.  We will monitor female flowers closely as the amount of female flowers can be a good indication as to a heavy crop, light crop or NO crop of pecans for this season.  Mark has planted most of our 2 year old pecan trees – we try and replant anywhere from 75 to 125 trees each year.  We lose some trees from year to year due to wind damage, disease, and lightning.  Some of our trees are slowly dying from damage from back to back hurricanes – Rita and Ike.   All for now – gotta ride my horse under the pecan trees –  I so love this Nut Farm!

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.