September Pecan Priorities

Each month we need to determine and accomplish our highest pecan priorities first. What we do in April is totally different from what we do in August, so what are our must do jobs today? In our Texas A&M orchard, we have a bumper crop on 34-year-old Pawnee trees. This year we had to nut...

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Month-by-Month Management Recommendations for 2018

As pecan growers enter the 2018 pecan year, it is good to outline management practices and develop plans. Growers can use different types of management—establishment management, low versus moderate versus intensive orchard management, and native grove management. Texas production is in an alternate bearing cycle with 2018 being the “on” year. Thus far the winter...

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“Son, Nitrogen Makes Plants Grow”

This week I told Monte Nesbitt, “Well, it looks like we’re going to have two short crops in a row.” I asked him what he thought. Smiling, he said, “They need a good dose of Ammonium nitrate.” We both laughed because we know one cannot go 15 years without soil-applied nitrogen fertilizer on bearing pecans....

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Pecans and Pecan People

When the roll is called up yonder all will say, “He was a pecan man” or “that woman really knew pecans.” There are over 1,000 pecan growers in the state of Texas and many more states throughout the South. They work with pecans, they love pecans, and pecans are their life. Profits are nice, but...

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Pecan Kernel Biochemistry

The pecan is one of the hardest working plants on earth and needs pecan growers to work just as hard to develop kernels properly and fully. The kernel is almost all fat with little sugar or carbohydrates. Complex and arduous, the biochemistry of pecan kernel development is possibly one of the most difficult biological processes...

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Pecan Grafting Woes

Pecan grafting has never been easy. Olives have been grafted for over 2,000 years, but the first successful pecan graft was not until 1845 by Antoine at Oak Alley Plantation just north of New Orleans. Nurserymen were able to whip graft below ground in the early 1900s and the rough bark patch bud was used...

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Pecan Chilling and Delayed Bud Break

The 2016-2017 winter at College Station, Texas was the warmest in the last 45 years. According to the U.S. Weather Service via Underground Weather and “Get Chill Hours” on the web, we received only 368 hours of winter chilling below 45 degrees Fahrenheit from Nov. 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017. From 1969 to 1974,...

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How to Prune to Hedge

Congratulations to the Western Pecan Growers Association for an outstanding conference March 5-7. One of the main topics was a grower panel on hedging led by Mike Kilby, and it was very good. Pecan hedging has been with us for a long time, or at least since growers began planting more than 27 trees per...

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2017 Pecan Calendar for Texas

As pecan growers enter the 2017 pecan year it is good to outline management practices and develop plans. Growers can use different types of management: establishment management, low vs moderate vs intensive orchard management, and native grove management. Texas production is in an alternate bearing cycle with 2017 being the “on” year, which means two...

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Old Pecan Varieties

Every new pecan grower wants to establish an orchard as fast as possible in order to establish a cash flow and pay off the land, establishment, development and production costs as soon as possible. Important factors in this new orchard process are ideal climate, soil, salt-free irrigation water, management, labor, money, available time, knowledge, and...

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Pecan Harvest and Rain

We are up and running with our 2016 harvest at the A&M pecan orchard.  Most Texas growers outside the far west are through harvesting their ‘Pawnee’ and are now picking ‘Desirables.’  The results are too early to tell; it has been a year of rain, no rain, and rain.  We had great rains in the...

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Tribute to Mark Salopek

My lifelong friend and pecan hero, Mark Salopek of Las Cruces, New Mexico, passed away on Aug. 21 after a hard fight with cancer. We were students together at Texas A&M University in 1969-70 when his father called him home to make their pecan deal work. He and his brothers James and Ben returned home...

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August is Pecan “D-Day”

The Texas pecan crop for 2016 will be made or lost in August. Our year started with a good, not great crop statewide. There were excessive spring rains and the trees looked great with the finest green foliage on record. There was enough rain and humidity for pecan scab to set in on most varieties....

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Rain Issues for Texas

The Texas A&M Pecan Orchard received over 12 inches of rain in May 2016, making it the second highest rainfall May in history for the area. The weatherman says we have 4 days with more than 50 percent chance of rain the first week of June, so more water may be on the way. The...

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Texas A&M Pecan Orchard History

The first Texas A&M pecan orchard was established in the early 1900s by E.J. Kyle, then Professor of Horticulture and instructor of the HORT 418 Pecan Class. The trees were at the northwest corner of campus at the intersection of FM 60 and Union Pacific Railroad. The planting remained until removal for construction of the...

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Training Young Pecan Trees

Every pecan grower wants to establish a new orchard as fast as possible with the trees trained as a central leader with the first scaffold limbs at least 5 feet above the ground. However, many fail to understand training or pruning young trees is not job one. More important needs are good soil, salt-free irrigation...

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Rapid Pecan Establishment

Planting pecan trees is not an easy task. In anticipation of a beautiful mature orchard, one can hope for the best but end up with dead trees or trees that refuse to grow. This idea is not original—Professor Fred Brison called planting pecans, “a rendezvous with death”. During the last five years we have established 14...

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Pecans Need Water

Texas is currently experiencing a very warm winter with limited rain. It is not time to irrigate, but we worry about the coming season if this drought continues. If one were to ask, what affect pecan profits most? — some would say rain. Rainfall is the perfect irrigation with slow delivery, good infiltration into the...

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Pecan Harvest 2015 at Texas A&M

We have completed harvesting, processing and retailing 60 percent of our 2015 pecan crop at the Texas A&M Orchard. Our current 2015 crop was a surprise. In the November 2014 Pecan South, we reported an outstanding very large 2014 crop and suggested a sizable 2015 crop would be unlikely. However, this year’s crop was even...

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Pecan Quality Cuts Yield in 2015

Our 2015 issues continue at the Texas A&M pecan orchard as we are now in an extended rain period. Our year started with highest ever spring rains, then the rain stopped and we experienced a long hot dry period, which has reduced our yield. Many varieties failed to bear because 2015 was our “off” year....

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Pecan Heaven to Hell in 2015

Our 2015 crop at the Texas A&M orchard is in dire stress and needs water. We have/had a great crop on ‘Pawnee’, ‘Desirable’, ‘Kanza’ and some USDA hybrids. All other varieties have a zero crop. Our season started great with more spring rain than ever. The early season foliage was great. We learned how beneficial...

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Pecan Scab Questions

Texas is currently experiencing a major drought and heat wave following the wettest April and May on record. Our very wet spring set the stage for a major pecan scab year. I am not and have not been paid to be a plant pathologist; however, I study and worry about scab. I have experienced pecan...

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Pecan Laws

As pecan growers, our lives, jobs and future are all impacted by laws, either civil or common. Comments here are not published as fact or law, but rather for consideration. Alternate Bearing Law of 1528: Cabeza de Vaca established that pecan trees bear every other year. A big crop is followed by a low crop...

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Texas Big Flood Followed by Drought

Texas agriculture has battled soil moisture since the first orchards were planted in the early 1900s. As E.E. Risien said, the 3 most important things pecans need are water, water, water. In 2011, Texas growers received only 2 rains while this April and May the state received record rainfall. The entire state of Texas was...

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Bluefford G. Hancock, 1925 – 2015

Bluefford G. Hancock passed away on Thursday, April 23, 2015 at the age of 90 following a long and successful career in Extension Horticulture at Texas A&M University at College Station. He was raised on a dairy farm in Erath County and served in the U.S. Army during WWII in Hawaii where he advanced to...

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Pecan Orchard Establishment

Planting seed in place. Pecan orchards are difficult to establish by planting seed because it requires individual tree care for tree selection, irrigation, weed control and unwanted tree removal. All of which occurs over a long three to five year period of time. Though seemingly less costly, it is, however, the most expensive system for...

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Pecan Soil and Production Potential

Many factors influence production and profitability but few or none are more important than the soil on which pecans are grown. We always say, “Pecans need deep, well-drained soil;” but the question is how deep and how well drained? Irrigation is important, but the water delivery and rate depends on the soil. Soil and water...

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Annual Pecan Calendar

As pecan growers enter the 2015 pecan year it is good to outline management practices and develop plans. Growers can use different types of management: establishment management, low versus moderate versus intensive orchard management, and native grove management. Texas production is in an alternate-bearing cycle with 2015 being an “off” year. Our rainfall last season...

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Pecan Highs and Lows for TAMU in 2014

The Texas A&M pecan orchard had a great year in 2014; but it was not without issues and problems. The harvest was great with 17 acres producing 13,050 pounds of nuts, which were retailed as kernel halves or large pieces and/or chocolate covered halves for $43,500. This was our best season since 2009, hopefully, we...

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Pecan Quality and Price

Way back in November 1969, Bluefford Handcock and I judged the Menard County Pecan Show with Duncan Wilson and Sam Kuykendall. After the show, Duncan gave Bluefford a free deer hunt on the ranch, but he did not get his big buck that day. Mr. Hancock feels the sights were off on Duncan’s rifle. The...

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Pecan Harvest 2014 at A&M

The Texas pecan harvest for 2014 is well underway except for the far West. Last winter was the coldest sustained weather in Texas without a warm “Indian Summer” in my 44 years at Texas A&M. At College Station, we received more than 900 hours of winter chilling below 45 degrees F from October to March....

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Pecan harvest woes and uncertainty

Many years ago, a long-time pecan grower told me: the entire season is practice, the game begins with harvest. He was correct. Harvest is everything – good, bad and unknown. The 2014 first ‘Pawnee’ harvest at the Texas A&M orchard is now complete and the nuts are at the sheller. Our Oct. 2 harvest was...

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Pecan harvest 2014

Harvest time is here, I hope we are ready. The Texas A&M orchard ‘Pawnees’ should be ready for harvest on Sept. 27 if all goes well. We have about 1 percent of the shucks open with total separation of the nut with a totally brown shell. A few nuts are 95 percent filled because some...

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Pecan nut thinning is now!

Texas has a great pecan crop for 2014. All trees not hit by the late winter freeze are loaded. In addition, we have had the best late spring and summer rains in some areas with very little scab. Most varieties at the Texas A&M pecan orchard are loaded. We had 5 major rains of 3...

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Pecan Records and Pesticides

I hate to keep records; I would rather go to the orchard and do something rather than record data. However, every night I log all the significant pecan activity in my desk diary and have been doing so for many years. The information though seemingly unimportant at the time could be valuable in the future....

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Orchard renovation: Thurman Gibson

Forty years ago, when I was just a young new horticulturist with Texas A&M, I received a phone call from Glenn Huddleston, Anderson County Extension Agent, asking if I would help him and a grower decide what to do with a 60-year-old orchard that had not been managed for over 20 years. The answer was...

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Pecan post-freeze management

Much of the western pecan belt in West Texas, Southeast New Mexico, and Southwest Oklahoma was hit hard by the late season freeze of April 15, 2014. Temperatures as low as 21 degrees F were recorded, and damage was obtained to some trees with only 28 degrees F. Pecans are known for being the last...

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Pecan grafting tips

Olive grafting is 2,000+ years old as described in the Bible, and pecan grafting began at Oak Alley Plantation just north of New Orleans in 1855 or so. Grafting in pecans is not an easy process, it is difficult; especially in the arid Southwest. Gulf Coast or southeastern growers and nurserymen can use a wide...

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Pecans and cold weather

The winter of 2013-2014 has been the coldest sustained weather in Texas without a warm “Indian Summer” in my 43 years at Texas A&M. At College Station, we have received more than 900 hours of winter chilling requirement below 45 degrees F from October to this date. In addition to the chilling, there have been...

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2014 Pecan Calendar For Texas

As pecan growers enter the 2014 pecan year, it is good to outline management practices and develop plans. Growers can use different types of management: establishment management, low vs. moderate vs. intensive orchard management, and native grove management. Texas production is in an alternate-bearing cycle with 2014 being the “on” year following the short 2013...

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Looking Back On 2013 Pecans

Our 2013 season was marked by both high and low experiences. Our group of students of the last four years was happy with the good growth and development for the Texas A&M Orchard at the TPGA Conference. It has been a hard but rewarding experience for all of us and we were happy to share...

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Pecan Rain Problems

The 2013 Texas pecan harvest started out late, and then came the rains, which made it even later. Some growers may not harvest due to rain. On the other hand, rain is the finest irrigation a pecan orchard can obtain. E.E. Risen, the father of pecan production at San Saba in the late 1800s said...

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Old Pecan Varieties in Texas

There are over 1,000 varieties of pecans; but how many are “the best”? In Texas, there are only a very few: ‘Western’, ‘Desirable’, ‘Pawnee’, maybe ‘Caddo’, ‘Sioux’ and ‘Kanza’. In 2011, I wrote an article on the varieties THAT have potential, so we will not go there here. This winter, we face the hard task...

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Texas Pecan Show Down

We all know August and September are the make it or break it time in pecans. This high-stress period is an old time gun fight — we live or die in 45 days. So much must be done and if not, we can lose the total crop. The key is to have pecans and keep...

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George Ray McEachern sprays Roundup-resistant pigweed at the Texas A&M orchard.

Roundup-Resistant Pigweed

Pecan industry: we have a problem. Since our first trials with Roundup (glyphosate) in 1973, we have had a near miracle cure for weed control in pecans. The happy days are over. We now have a rapidly growing, tall weed with a base over 1 inch in diameter that is both hard and fiber-filled. One...

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Many pecan questions remain

Many have grown, worked and studied pecans for 100 years with change coming with each generation. In the last 40 years, a dramatic change has occurred yet many questions continue and new production systems will come. Here are some of our major concerns. Alternate bearing has and will continue to bring unstable prices and profits...

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Let’s get to work!

The 2012 crop finished in a mess and we know the 2013 crop is going to be light – but we have to get to work, whether we like it or not. We must remember our main goal in pecan orchard management is keeping the trees healthy. We should have our first Roundup treatment behind...

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Young pecan tree training

The focus for 2013 at the Texas A&M pecan orchard will be young tree training. When I came to Texas in 1969, pecan trees were trained entirely different from how we do it today. In the old days, spacing was wide with scaffold limbs beginning only 4 to 6 feet from the ground. The old...

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Pecan Price is Complex

Current pecan prices paid to growers are terrible. So, the question is why? The 2012 pecan harvest was big – bigger than expected, and it was on an “off” year when production was to be low. I estimated the crop to be 45 million for Texas at the Louisiana meetings and I do not know...

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Pecan investments

For the first time in 120 years, pecans are priced high enough for consideration as a sound investment. Interest in pecan orchards is at an all-time high. From the mid-1960s until the late 1990s, investors purchased pecan orchards because of great IRS tax advantages. One could purchase a bearing orchard, then use tax credits and...

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Pecan Grading on a Bad Year

Wow, what a year for pecans. Great start with a big crop in an “off” year and good rain to get the season going. In July at the Texas Pecan Growers conference we all knew the crop was big and we had to shake. Nut thinning for reducing crop size in July and early August...

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The ‘Desirable’ Pecan

Three Texas pecan buyers have stated the 2012 crop is “the year of ‘Desirable’.” It has produced top quality nuts across the river region from Victoria north to Waco. The Texas A&M pecan orchard ‘Desirables’ are the best ever and superior to all other varieties this year. We have 13 large 75-year-old ‘Desirable’ trees, 40...

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Pecan Pralines

Each holiday season I make many batches of pralines for friends, parties, and folks who need a little lift. This did not just happen — it took me about 4 years to learn how to make authentic Louisiana or New Orleans Pralines. They are sometimes called Creamy Pralines or Caramel Pralines. So, what makes these...

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Drought and pecan tree death

The 2-5 year drought in Texas has taught us many lessons. We have some orchards with 40 percent dead pecan trees, while others are loaded and looking good. So, why do some trees die while others do not? Without leaving the Texas A&M orchard we have some trees that are dead or near dead while...

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Texas pecans: shake and make

We just completed shaking off 400 pounds per acre of green, waterstage ‘Pawnee’ pecans in the A&M Storey block. The trees were overloaded with clusters of 3 to 5 nuts on 10 of 10 shoots. Our crop was good last year, but not great enough to shake. This was the “on” year and the trees...

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2012 Pecan Calendar for Texas

As pecan growers enter the 2012 pecan year, it is good to outline management practices that may need to be used and develop plans. The 2011 pecan prices were the highest ever paid and growers are excited about the future. The 2011 year was terrible for Texas growers, but good prices helped ease the pain....

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Pecan Investments

For the first time in 120 years, pecans are priced high enough for consideration as a sound investment. Interest in pecan orchards is at an all-time high. From the mid-1960s until the late 1990s, investors purchased pecan orchards because of great IRS tax advantages. One could purchase a bearing orchard, then use tax credits and...

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Texas Pecan Drought Impact

Everyone in the pecan industry knows Texas is currently experiencing a 20-month drought. Pecans are in bad shape. If there ever was a good year for no pecans, 2011 is it. Trees are stressed to the limit and a good crop could or would kill the trees. The following are some of the signs the...

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Texas Pecan Drought Continues

All of Texas agriculture, landscape horticulture, and home yards are in trouble. We have had only two rains in 2011 and last year was a dry year. As one drives across the state, the severity of our statewide drought is obvious. Pastures are grazed to the soil or dead gray, ponds are dry and cattle...

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Texas Pecan Numbers

I like numbers. Some people hate numbers. And don’t forget, numbers can be wrong, or they simply lie. Here are a few Texas Pecan Numbers, maybe right, probably wrong. There are 600,000 to 1,000,000 acres of native pecan trees in Texas, and the number of managed natives is unknown. The finest native groves average less...

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Big Pecan Drop in 2011

The Texas pecan crop for 2011 appears to be in a nose dive. I understand there are some orchards throughout the state with a good crop. I do not know the crop situation in far West Texas. I do know the south-central river region from Waco to the Gulf is in bad shape. Some growers...

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Push Young Trees in Early Summer

Pecan orchard establishment can be slow or fast depending on soil type, depth, irrigation, weed control, zinc sprays, nitrogen fertilization and pruning. With the increased interest in pecans as a cash crop, there are many new plantings. Not all trees will grow; some will actually die while others will make tremendous growth. The main idea...

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Hello, Georgia

After 42 years, I finally attended a Georgia Pecan Growers Meeting last month. I knew it was different right off the bat because it was raining cats and dogs. Texas pecans are in a major drought. It has rained only once at College Station in the last 10 months. Our Horticulture Department constructed an irrigation...

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Pecan Planting Success

Pecan Professor Fred R. Brison said, “Planting a pecan tree is a rendezvous with death.” Early in my career during the pecan planting hay day of the early 1970s we saw many orchards go in overnight which failed to grow and, after a couple of years, the trees died. We cannot stick the tree in...

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2011 Pecan Calendar for Texas

As pecan growers enter the 2011 pecan year, it is good to outline management practices which may need to be used and develop plans.  The 2010 pecan prices were the highest ever paid and growers are excited about the short and long term future. The 2010 season was an “off” year, but prices changed the season....

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Tired pecans and orchard decline

For years growers have been talking or asking why their trees are in decline. For the last two years, I have been working with three Texas A&M orchards that were definitely in decline. It is not a good time for decline because the pecan industry is at a wonderful point in time; the world has...

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Good and Bad from 2010

The 2010 pecan year at the Texas A&M pecan orchard had some good and not so good results. We finished removing trees in the Storey block with a 50-by-50 spacing for 25-year-old trees. The stumps did not all die, so we still have to take out stumps for about 30 trees. We had a good...

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Texas Pecan Checklist

There are a number of grower-accepted practices for pecans —for natives, intensively managed orchards, standard orchards, sustainable orchards, and abandoned orchards. These practices can be used from time to time, regularly, or as a “must do” practice every year. Practices affect pecan alternate bearing, tree health, production, kernel quality and profits. A grower should want...

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Nitrogen is #3 in Jobs to Do

In the production of pecans as a commercial crop, some things are constant and we cannot do much about them, such as soil depth, soil drainage, money available for management, time available with other jobs, etc. The big four jobs are water, weeds, nitrogen and zinc sprays. Here we talk about nitrogen. I am concerned...

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No. 1: Pecans Need Water

We all know pecans need deep, well-drained soil, a warm climate, financing and good management. But when it comes to what we can do, irrigation is number 1. Nothing we do in the orchard affects profit more than irrigation. For years or decades, we have said pecans need one-acre-inch of water every week from April...

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Basic Four for the Pecan

Pecan growing is not a simple task. For trees to grow and bear quality nuts, over 100 different challenges must go right. Pecan growers know one needs a warm climate, deep well-drained soil, a lot of money, the desire to grow pecans, and good management. There are 4 absolutely essential management tasks that we must...

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J. Benton Storey, 1928-2010

Benton Storey in 1957 began a 45-year career with the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, where he taught HORT 418 “Pecan Culture” from 1960 to 2002. He was a major advisor for 52 advanced degree students in various components of pecan science. More professional pecan scientists trained under...

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2010 Pecan Calendar For Texas

As pecan growers enter the 2010 pecan year, it is good to outline management practices that may need to be used and develop plans. The 2007, 2008 and 2009 early markets were less than ideal as far as prices to grower. The 2009 crop started out great, but 4 months of drought followed by way...

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Pecan Crash of 2009

Congratulations to all pecan growers who had a great crop on a big “on” year. Most of us did not fare so well. We had a terrible year in 2008 with a short crop and terrible prices, so we were all expecting this to be a comeback year. The crop looked great throughout much of...

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