Before You Plant, Evaluate Your Soil

Each January, people throughout the southern United States prepare to plant a new pecan orchard. For many, it’s a first-time venture, perhaps even their first agricultural endeavor. Others may be expanding or renovating an existing orchard by planting trees on new ground or within their present boundaries. Some people may be planting ten trees, while...

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Postharvest Management Matters

Harvest is a dividing line for two important phases of pecan production. The “preharvest” phase involves everything that goes into setting, growing and protecting a pecan crop while it is on the tree. We generally count all of the 200 plus days from budbreak to shucksplit as the pre-harvest period, but it includes the care...

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Why Mulching Matters

In 1994, I was interviewing for a job with Auburn University and was being toured through the E.V. Smith Research Center near Shorter, Alabama, by Bill Goff, Professor in the Department of Horticulture. Dr. Goff was giving me an overview of active research projects on pecans at this central Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station-owned research center....

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Pecan Tree Training Tips

Thousands of young pecan trees have been planted in the southeastern U.S. this winter, and they are primed to break dormancy and grow in the coming days. Few, if any, newly grafted pecan trees grow into a nice, central leader-shaped tree on their own. Without some efforts at training them, all these thousands of new...

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Pecan Tree Stress

The 2016 pecan harvest did not end positively for many growers in Texas — especially it seems in the eastern region of the state. In a year of favorable market prices, growers were frustrated to not be able to deliver top quality and receive top prices. Incomplete kernel filling was realized in some orchards. Dark...

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Scab Resistance Update

Spring precipitation amounts in 2015 and 2016 have been truly impactful on agriculture in Texas, replenishing lakes and reservoirs, recharging deep soil strata with water and bringing discussions of historical droughts to at least a temporary halt. The 2016 pecan crop bears marks of these El Nino-influenced rains in many areas of Texas. The marks...

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To Feed or Not to Feed — Foliar Fertilizers

The water-soluble fertilizer industry is alive and well. Unverified sources place the annual gross sales of water soluble fertilizers around the world at $12.2 billion dollars, involving over 13 million tons of products used worldwide each year. Water-soluble fertilizers may be used in injection systems in greenhouses, nurseries, orchards, livestock feeding systems, and row crop...

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Dormant-Season Disease Prevention

Southeastern pecan growers today are living in the good times when it comes to disease control. A large number of low-toxicity fungicides are available in easy-to-handle packages. Large capacity air-blast sprayers are pulled behind tractors fitted with air-conditioned cabs. Some growers even have cameras on the sprayer wired to monitors on the dashboard that display...

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The Glyphosate Debate

Glyphosate herbicide is arguably the most important synthetic chemical product in the history of the pecan industry. For 40 years it has helped growers effectively combat a wide spectrum of annual and perennial weeds. It was instrumental to the development of the ‘sod and strip’ system of orchard floor management, reducing disking and mowing practices...

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In Search of Fall Color

Thousands of Americans head out on the highways and byways of the country each year in search of fall color. Many southerners journey north where the cooler temperatures bring out the vivid red, bronze and gold foliage color hues that can be elusive or short-lived in the South. Technology, the internet and social media now...

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Summer Pecan Scab Defense

The start of the 2015 growing has been wetter than normal for many pecan growers in portions of Oklahoma, Central and Eastern Texas, the Central Gulf Coast and middle Georgia (Fig 1.). The National Weather Service has declared that El Nino is present, with a 70 percent chance of continuing through this summer and 60...

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Zinc Thinking in the Southeast

Zinc is the 24th most abundant element in the earth’s crust, the eighth metal known to man, a component of ancient brass artifacts, and an ingredient of batteries, gutters and galvanized screws. Zinc is a relative newcomer to plant fertilizer, having not been discovered as essential to plant growth until 1926. Not long afterward, zinc...

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The Best Pecan in Texas in 2013

Being the best at something is commendable in Texas, where there is no shortage of biggest, best, brightest and firsts. The “best” pecans in Texas for each crop year are awarded in July at the Texas Pecan Growers Association Annual Conference. The journey to being the best begins with entering a 42-nut sample in a...

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Pecan variety identification

Many situations arise that call for a pecan tree to be identified. Orchards are bought or inherited, sometimes with no map or planting plan of what was planted. People identify exceptional trees that they want to identify or name. Growers with a young orchard may discover trees producing nuts different from what they bought. Buyers...

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Avoid late-season flooding

The pecan scientific community has collectively and rightfully stressed the importance of late-season irrigation. Larry Stein, Jody Worthington, George Ray McEachern in Texas and scientists in other states contributed to our modern understanding of the necessity of late-season irrigation to improve pecan kernel quality and reduce stress disorders like shuck decline and stick-tights. Darrell Spark’s...

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Casting Shadows

Pecan trees grow every year according to their overall health and growing environment. The gains in the growth of young trees that are one to five or six years old are usually quite obvious, with branches sometimes adding two or more feet of length in one growing season. They add height to their central leader...

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Ready, Set, Budbreak

In a National Football League game, the quarterback of the team on offense has 40 seconds from the end of the previous play to get the next play from the coach, gather his teammates in a huddle, tell them the next play, walk up into formation, glance at the opposing team’s defense, and bark out...

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A Pecan Orchard Christmas List

Many of us likely remember writing a letter to Santa Claus in the days of our youth — a checklist of the things we most wanted to find wrapped up with a bow on Christmas morning. Small town newspapers often publish Christmas lists that elementary school-aged children send in. It’s always fun to see the...

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Top Pecans in Texas – 2012

Winners of the Texas State Pecan Show were selected last July at the Texas Pecan Growers Association annual convention held in College Station. Approximately 21 county pecan shows were held across the state during the months of November and December 2012, some of which were multi-county events. The top 2 placing entries within each variety...

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Pecan varieties for collectors

Let’s take a break from the usual routine of presenting information on pecan varieties that growers should considering planting for their scab resistance, consistent production, or potential profitability, and instead review pecan varieties to plant just because they make for great conversation. As a warning, let me preface this article by saying: Do not plant...

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Pat and Marguerite Baggett took home the Grand Champion Commercial Pecan award in the Texas State Pecan Show held in July. At right is their Washington County Extension agent Larry Pierce. (Photo by Monte Nesbitt)

Winning Texas Pecan Show for 2011 no easy task

The year 2011 will be stamped in history books as one of the worst drought years in Texas. “Difficult” doesn’t begin to describe the growing conditions that pecan growers throughout the Lone Star state struggled with, taxing their irrigation systems just to keep trees alive. The combination of drought, scarce production over most of the...

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Pre-sprouted pecans suffering from Vivipary

Future pecan trees available now

Obtaining pecan trees to plant in 2013 is a real challenge. If you haven’t contracted with a pecan nursery prior to the appearance of this article, you will likely sit on the sidelines during the upcoming winter tree-planting season. More trees are on the way. Nurseries, both established and new enterprises, from Georgia in the...

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One Percent Kernel

The months of August and September are very important for pecan crop development. Shell hardening signals the end of the nut-sizing period, and the commencement of kernel filling. The date of shell hardening varies by variety and location. The early-maturing variety ‘Pawnee’, was at full shell hardening by the middle of July this year at Bastrop,...

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Looking Back at Texas’ Best Pecans in 2010

2010 marked the 60th year of the Texas Pecan Show and Grading Demonstration. This Texas Pecan Growers Association-sponsored event started in November last year with 25 county shows hosted by Texas AgriLife Extension agents. Regional shows were held in Brenham, Texas (Larry Pierce, coordinator); Stephenville, Texas (Whit Weems and Neal Alexander, coordinators); Midland, Texas (Deborah Frost...

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Early Harvest Hurdles

Pecan growing as an industry is evolving significantly and rapidly with the continued introduction of early harvest varieties (EHVs). The USDA Pecan Breeding Program deserves accolades for making controlled crosses that have combined traits of large nut size, excellent kernel quality and early harvest, which has both expanded the industry’s growing range to the north...

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Scab Control for Small Orchards and Landscapes

Pecan scab is a crop-limiting disease problem in the Southeast. For commercial pecan orchards, the prevention of scab on susceptible varieties is straightforward. Trees must be sprayed every 14-21 days from bud break to shell hardening with one of several EPA-registered fungicides to prevent leaves or nuts from damaging infection (Fig 1). An airblast sprayer...

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Pecan Orchard Takeover Checklist

What you are about to read is not an article on walnut caterpillar, scorch mites or black pecan aphids — insects that come in seemingly overnight and take over your orchard. Nor is this an article describing what happens when you borrow money and the knock at the front door is your lender. Rather, this...

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Texas Pecan Shows Not Just About Recognition

The pecan show is underway throughout Texas, with 26 county or multi-county shows representing approximately 45 counties. Four regional shows are held in mid-December and the state competition takes place at the TPGA conference in July 2011. Each year the state show identifies the Grand Champion native entry with the best combination of size and...

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Sorting Through the Cull Pile

Pecan cleaners can be psychologically depressing machines. With air-legs, blowers and conveyors, they can create large piles of light weight and defective nuts as the harvested crop passes through them. Oh sure, they work great, and technological advances have given growers and accumulators better capability to sort out defective nuts and improve the quality of...

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Victory or Defeat in August

The pecan growing season begins in late March and ends in late September for many orchards in the Southeast. Let’s round it off and call it 200 days, earlier and later ripening varieties withstanding. Approximately 125 to 130 days after bud break, a pecan grower will find himself or herself in the month of August....

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Riding Along With Dr. Storey

I wouldn’t be a pecan specialist were it not for Dr. J. Benton Storey. The procedure for acceptance into graduate school at Texas A&M University, in addition to grades and test scores, requires that a professor in the department be willing to take on a prospective student. My ticket to Aggieland was punched by Dr....

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Spring Fertilizer Timing

An annual application of fertilizer is one practice that separates intensively managed commercial pecan orchards from many native groves and dooryard plantings. Pecan trees will bear nuts with no supplemental fertilizer in many of those settings, and occasionally will make fantastic crops, but producing pecans consistently and profitably requires that the nutritional needs of the...

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