A native pecan grove in southern Oklahoma.

Pre-Harvest Planning

Since harvest is just around the corner, I thought it would be good to talk about management practices a grower may take the time to evaluate this time of year, which could pay big dividends into the future. I know that many producers are focused on the upcoming harvest and getting their equipment ready. However,...

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Orchard cleanup following ice damage

Many native pecan-producing areas were recently hit with extremely low temperatures and a blanket of ice. Producers can only hope any damage is not to the extent that has resulted from ice storms of the past. One major factor that could increase the potential for damage is the amount of stress that the trees have...

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Pecan buds at various stages of development suffer from freeze damage. All primary buds on this shoot were damaged. (Photo by Charles Rohla)

Watch for Freeze Damage This Chilly Spring

As I was preparing to write this article, I was pondering what to write about this month but then mother nature gave me an unexpected and unwanted topic. Over the weekend of April 7 and 8 temperatures across the northern pecan production areas dropped below freezing. With budbreak having started on several trees in southern...

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Tree by Tree, Step by Step

What a difference a year makes as we get ready for another exciting growing season! Our winter to date has been totally different from last year with periods of extended cold, some ice and snow and cold fronts on a regular basis. After a year of virtually no chill, it appears that we will have...

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So, what happened to my pecans?

Hard to believe another year has come and gone, and with it, another pecan harvest of some pretty iffy pecans in some areas of the state. Although other folks had very good pecans, the norm for many areas of Texas has been only fair to good pecans. Please, please, don’t get me wrong. I am...

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When the Storm Ends, Cleanup Begins

The dawn of the 2017 pecan harvest is upon us. As usual, it has its own set of unique challenges, which must be dealt with depending on where you are before one could even think about harvesting. First and foremost, many pecan bottoms were flooded due to Hurricane Harvey, and the cleanup of the debris...

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Scorched

Uncovering why leaves die can be a complicated business. Many symptoms are similar, but they can have very different causes. Is the dead tissue a primary or secondary symptom? Are we talking about a disease, insect, nutrient, or even something entirely different? As Dr. Cary Illinois finds out, diagnosing leaf scorch symptoms can sometimes be...

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The Story of a Good Native Nut

I don’t think I’ve ever visited a native pecan producer that doesn’t have a favorite tree in their grove. More than likely, he has propagated additional trees of the family’s favorite native pecan with the dream he’s discovered the next big pecan cultivar. I’ve seen a lot of these nuts and they seem to have...

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Cattle graze underneath native pecan trees at an orchard.

Add Value in the Pecan Orchard with Ground Cover

When I am visiting with pecan growers, one topic that seems to come up is proper management of forage for either livestock grazing or for hay production. Working mostly in Oklahoma and North Texas, the majority of the landowners I work with are not just solely pecan producers. These individuals are agriculture producers with diverse...

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The Tree Signals the Timing for Orchard Tasks

 “When do I fertilize?” “When do I spray for casebearer?” “When do I control pecan weevil?” These are just a few of the ‘when’ questions I field every year from both new and experienced pecan growers. And with an early spring this year, everyone seems confused about timing orchard operations. I could reply with a...

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Unique Winter and Early Spring Weather

The dawn of a new growing season is upon us once again; it really seems like we just finished the last season and here we go again. What a unique winter and early spring it has been—hardly cold in some areas, but still those areas had two arctic blasts and the cold from those spells...

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GM? NO. (But does it matter?)

Sometimes our eyes can betray us. The connection between what we see and what we know is very strong. Each feeds the other – seeing something adds to our catalog of knowledge, whereas having knowledge of something prior to seeing it can sometimes be limiting. An illustration of this occurs in the next case by...

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A Farewell Salute to Sammy Helmers

It is once again time to bid a final farewell to one of Extension Horticulture’s finest: Dr. Sammy G. Helmers. It seems the Good Lord was in need of a new “storyteller” and our own Dr. Helmers was called in for the job on Nov. 15, 2016. Since we are talking about our one and...

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Invest in Your Native Pecan Trees

All too often I hear native growers complain that they have little or no crop because wet weather in the spring prevented pecan pollination. The truth of the matter is that a few rain storms during pollination rarely prevent nut set in native groves. When someone complains about lack of pollination, I immediately suspect the...

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Case 3: Crowd Control

Most scientists don’t get too personally attached to the plants they work on because sooner or later they will likely be cut down or otherwise destroyed. However, most other humans look at a full grown tree and think, “You want me to do what? Cut it down? Are you crazy?” What’s best is not always...

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Be Aware of Edge Effects

The other day I was up at our local pesticide distributor to pick up some chemicals when I got into a conversation with a neighboring row-crop farmer. The topic of deer damage came up and he mentioned that every year deer create the same unique browse pattern along the edges of his fields. That simple...

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Rain Can Bring Blessings and Challenges

Rain!!… what a beautiful thing… just seems to be too much at times. But, my, does it make things grow, especially pecans. It seems like we have been talking about drought and the devastation it was having on native trees along rivers and creeks that had gone dry forever, and today we are talking about...

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Bark Grafting in the Native Grove

Most native pecan growers have areas in their groves that have dozens of young trees along fence rows or popping up in open areas among mature trees. Fence-line pecan trees are often moved using a tree spade into open areas of the grove to help fully utilize available land area. The bottom line is that...

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Symptoms of Deception

Sometimes the symptoms we see with our eyes do not always provide an obvious link to an answer. And sometimes, what we think we know does not provide the answer because we are limited by our own knowledge. The biological world is a complex environment and often factors interact to bring about a certain result....

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The Causes of Lower Trunk Swelling

I have visited many native pecan groves over the years and have always found at least one tree in each grove that has developed a swollen, disfigured lower trunk. Trees with this condition are typically weak nut producers and often suffer from significant limb loss. As I work with growers to improve their native groves,...

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Feral Hogs in the Grove

Feral hogs are among the most destructive invasive species that agriculture producers face and can be a major issue for pecan growers. The most obvious damage that hogs cause in pecan areas is damage to the ground that interferes with harvest and general management. While this destruction can be costly and time-consuming, one often-overlooked consideration...

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Thinking About Scab at Harvest Time

By mid-September, the limbs of our native trees were bending down under the weight of an excellent nut crop. But it wasn’t until the leaves fell in early November that I could really see the size and quality of the 2015 crop. Back in 2012, extended drought shrank the size of our native nuts causing...

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Dawn of Another Native Harvest Season

The dawn of a new harvest season is upon us; in fact, the varmints have already captured those early maturing native pecans. More times than not, they get them long before we even know they are ready. What a crazy year it has been again — starting off wet, almost too wet in some areas,...

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The Pecan Detective Agency

When I was much younger I wanted to be a private detective. I read many of the old detective novels and watched lots of movies, hoping to be just like Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Charlie Chan or Inspector Wellman (bonus points if you know the last one). I was intrigued by how the detective was...

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Building Pecan Weevil Traps

Pecan weevil is the number one pest of native pecan growers. Knowing when to spray for this pest is critical for achieving economic control of a weevil population. To help make weevil spray-date decisions, we have been using trunk mounted ‘Circle’ traps. When placed on known “weevil trees”, these traps are very effective for monitoring...

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Bluefford Hancock – Pecans were his true love

I was privileged to have been hired by Mr. Bluefford G. Hancock, Extension Horticulture Project Group Leader Emeritus for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, better known as the Texas Agriculture Extension Service in his heyday. As Mr. Hancock often remarked, “When he started out he was the only one (Extension Horticulturist for Texas)”; and he...

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Has rain washed away the pecan crop?

As I sit down to write this article, the spring season is coming to an end. Catkins have come and gone, and most trees are finished shedding pollen for the year. Normally, I would have spent the last couple of months watching my wife and kids suffer through another miserable allergy season in Louisiana. But...

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Tools to help determine a thinning plan

Mature tree removal is one of the most critical and difficult management decisions that a pecan grower has to make particularly in native groves. It is often very difficult for a producer to cut down a large tree. Sometimes this difficulty arises from an emotional connection to a tree and other times it can be...

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Native Pecan Management During an “On” Year

In many native pecan groves, 2014 was a short crop year. A late spring frost in April 2014 damaged emerging buds and limited pistillate flower production. Then, just as the harvest season began, the weather turned crazy. We started with snow in early November then had periodic rain and snow storms during much of the...

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C-hican-ery

While I write this, we are in the midst of an election. Never-ending political ads blur the television screen and radio waves. Ceaseless mud-slinging and overt bashing of opponents is seemingly the only way races are played out in the public these days. It’s enough to make your eyes and ears bleed. Yes, 2014 is...

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Crop is good but varmints lurk

Whew! Looks like we are going to make it! Yes, as harvest begins it appears that the crop is going to be good despite the weather challenges. Many growers related that they were not sure they could make another season if it didn’t rain soon last year (2013) and even though there has been a...

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Marketing for the small pecan grower

Over the past few years, the U.S. pecan industry has seen continual growth and strengthening in the export market. Some credit has to be attributed to USDA programs that support American producers and businesses. Specialty Crop research grants and state Block Grants, crop insurance, and Foreign Agricultural Service marketing programs have all helped to strengthen...

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Review of Bunch Disease in Pecan

During the Oklahoma Pecan Growers’ orchard tour during the last conference, we looked at several pecan trees that exhibited signs of bunch disease. Producers asked several questions about this disease during the field tour and I have received several questions since. There is not a significant amount of information regarding bunch disease in pecan. The...

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Impacts of grazing cattle in a pecan grove

One of the most common forms of ground cover management in native pecan groves is to pasture cattle (Fig. 1). Grazing offers 2 advantages for a pecan producer: a second source of income from the same parcel of land (pecans + beef) and a significant reduction in orchard mowing costs. The grazing of animals under...

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Exercise caution with weed, brush control

Unexpected rains have been nice across much of the state; that, coupled with a very heavy bloom in native pecan bottoms, is cause for optimism even though a late freeze greatly reduced the crop load in some areas. However, pecan nut casebearer has been quite low to non-existent in many areas. So theoretically we should...

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Did you forget about the FSMA?

Everyone has to do it. Papers pile up on your desk for a few weeks and you have to take some time to straighten up your mess before you get buried under it. As I was sorting through a rather large pile of Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) materials, I realized it had been over...

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The Power of Association

As I write this, the Southeastern Pecan Growers Association annual convention is going on in Biloxi, Mississippi. Unfortunately, I can’t make it but I’m sure it will be a successful event. The opportunity for growers to get together and discuss pecan production practices is always enlightening. The education received is invaluable. Another important aspect is...

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Natural limb pruning

When visitors come to this corner of Southeast Kansas and walk in the shade of our native pecan groves, they are most often impressed by the enormous size of the trees. One of the first questions that always pops into a visitors head is: “How do you prune these huge trees?” I explain that the...

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Can’t find a tree to buy? Grow your own!

Has anyone tried to buy a pecan tree lately? You almost need to hire a private investigator to track one down for you. I’ve been receiving numerous inquiries from growers frustrated with their search for the appropriate variety on the right rootstock. Because of the explosion in new pecan acreage the last few years, nurseries...

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A Good Year to Mark Trees

The hot dry summers of 2011 and 2012 had a major impact on native pecan size and quality. In my area of Kansas, the dry weather shrank nuts down to about three quarters their normal weight. Fortunately, we received just enough late-summer rain during both years to promote full kernel development. By harvest, we were...

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A Season of Extremes

While growing up in Texas, I was used to hearing the phrase “If you don’t like the weather in Texas, wait five minutes — it’ll change!” A similar statement is credited to the legendary Will Rogers, “If you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma, wait a minute and it’ll change.” However, this summer many pecan...

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Fire and Pecan Trees

Recently I read about the enormous fires that were burning in Colorado. I’ve visited that area of the state a few times and always found it fascinating. When I was younger I was in Yellowstone National Park when the historic fires burned there. Fire definitely has a way of changing the ecological landscape. It has...

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The wind has ripped out one half of a narrow-angled branch connection from a large native tree.

Identifying causes for trunk injuries

It’s mid-summer and there’s not much to do in the native grove except for clipping the ground cover. The other day I noticed a large limb had been ripped out of a native tree by the wind (Fig. 1). I thought to myself—“now that mess will be a hot job to clean up”. If you...

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Pesticide Drift Affecting Pecan Trees

With twin 5-year-old girls in the house, it is a pretty common occurrence for me to be reading a children’s book, including nursery rhymes. Most parents have probably read the poem: March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers. It’s a cute little poem, but after working in agriculture the last few years, a...

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New food safety regs on the horizon

As I sit down to write this article for Pecan South, we’ve just finished up the holiday season and the kids have started school again. It’s a new year and I was pondering the idea of actually choosing a new novel to read over the next few weeks, something I haven’t had the time to...

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The Diverse World of Hickory

If you are reading this then I assume you know that pecans (Carya illinoensis) are in the hickory family. Pecans are also the “high point” of the family in terms of economic importance. However, there are several other species that might have some value as well if some time and effort was put into their...

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Dry weather lessons

The nuts produced in the northern portions of the pecan tree’s native range are known for having bright, high-quality kernels that provide the food industry with great tasting ‘topper-halves’. However, northern natives are not renowned for their large nut size. Over the past couple of years, region-wide droughts have had a major impact on our...

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2012: the year the minors went major

As I write this article, we are at the beginning of another pecan harvest season. ‘Pawnee’, ‘Candy’ and ‘Kanza’ have all initiated shucksplit before Sept. 1, 2012. Therefore much of a grower’s time over the next few weeks will be devoted to getting equipment ready to go out into the orchard. However, try to find...

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Weevils in their native environment

Weevil is the number one pest native pecan growers must learn to manage. Every time I think I’ve discovered the magic formula for completely stopping pecan weevil damage, nature throws me a curveball and I end up pulling weevil-damaged nuts off the cleaning table. It seems that managing pecan weevil in a native pecan grove may be...

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Native Treasures

During 2010 over 45 million pounds of native pecans were harvested in the United States. This production had a value of over $60 million dollars. With an estimated one million acres of native pecan timber, there is a huge potential to increase farm income from managing these trees. Often times, native producers do nothing to...

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Taking On More Natives

One thing’s certain in the pecan business. When pecan prices spike, more people get interested in managing native pecan trees. Drive through any native pecan area and you can find stands of trees that look to have potential for profitable pecan production. But looks can be deceiving. Some of these native stands were abandoned for...

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Aw Shucks! This Season Just Ain’t Normal

The last article I wrote discussed the flowering process in pecans and the different nut drop stages a grower could expect to observe through the spring and summer months. Now that we’ve managed to keep part of the crop on the trees until September, I thought we would spend some time discussing the effects of...

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Rambling on and Pondering Pecan Nuts

As an Extension specialist, I need to be pretty good at observation. I must be able to look at a problem, diagnose it, and file it in my memory for the next opportunity. I also watch people and observe their habits. For example, I listen to what someone talks about, even if it has nothing...

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Water and Native Pecans

Out here in the middle of the country, we’ve been under a dome of high pressure for weeks. Daily temperatures soar above 100 degrees and the sun is baking the field dry. It is even starting to get dry in our native pecan groves. At this point, even atheists are praying for rain. As most...

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How Will Weather Affect This Year’s Crop?

If you search on the internet for pecan pollination, you will generally find that pecan is referred to as a wind-pollinated, monoecious crop exhibiting heterodichogamy. What does that mean? Simply that pecan trees produce separate male and female flowers that mature at different times. When pollen is shed before the female flowers are receptive, the...

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Old Grove, New Potential

Last year over 45 million pounds of native pecans were harvested in the United States worth over $60 million dollars. The good prices from the past year have generated a lot of interest in pecan production. I receive several calls each week from folks wanting to get into the pecan business and benefit from these...

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The Other Pecan Product

The 2010 pecan crop set new records for prices paid to the producers of native pecans. With high prices comes renewed interest in developing new or long-time abandoned native pecan groves. Over the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time working with landowners ready to get rich in the pecan game (oh, if...

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The Importance Of Good Soil

Another year has passed us by and I’m sure you’ve heard or read many reflections on the events of 2010. As I sit here, pondering the last year’s pecan season, the overriding message has got to be “Wow, what a difference a year makes!!” Last year (January 2010) we were lamenting over the fact that...

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Know Thine Enemy

In the book, “The Art of War” by Sun-Tzu Wu, a very famous phrase was used – “know thine enemy”. I’m not sure whether this is a direct translation or just paraphrasing (my Chinese translation skills are seriously lacking), but the meaning is that the better one understands an adversary the better chance one has...

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Native Trees Recover from Ice Storm Damage

The older I get, the more respect I have for the durability of our native groves. Wind, floods, drought, freezing temperatures, and ice storms have all pummeled our native groves. But following every natural disaster, native groves recover and grow back into productivity. Sure, we lose some trees along the way, but our younger native...

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Wildlife Can Take Significant Toll on Pecan Crop

Pecan groves seem to be a common gathering place for a variety of wildlife.  Often times, individuals find this visually appealing when in fact wildlife gathering in these areas can become quite a nuisance. The damage resulting from wildlife inhabitation can be divided into three areas:  tree injury, nut injury, and cashing. Tree injury occurs when the...

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Native Disease Management

Ever since the 2007 Easter freeze, it seems like we have had to re-adjust our thinking about pest management in native pecans, at least in the northern portion of the native pecan range. It seems like the freezing temperatures in the spring of 2007 not only destroyed all the emerging new shoots on our trees,...

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Native Crop Looks Good in Texas So Far

It is with a great deal of sadness and respect that I note the passing of Belding Farms pecan grower extraordinaire, Mr. Jim Bennett. The first time I visited Belding Farms I was not only intrigued with the trees, but the size of the operation and the smoothness with which it ran due to Mr....

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Successfully Managing Native Pecans Can Be Challenging

One of the most challenging aspects of pecan production is managing the native pecan grove. Native pecan groves are unique since no two native trees or orchards are alike. Since these differences exist, each grove must be managed differently. To successfully manage a native grove, a producer should take a holistic approach when evaluating the...

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A Walk In The Grove

It was a long cold winter. When the weather finally broke with a warm spell in mid-March, I decided to enjoy a moment of warm sunshine to walk the grove. This has become a sort of annual tradition with me, looking over the trees and reflecting on all the things we did right and all...

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Pecan Graftwood Collection

Have you ever found a native tree that produced great, flavorful nuts every year and wanted to make more of them? Do you have a lot of native pecan trees that produce few or poor nuts and wished you could switch them to another variety? Well, all of that is possible and late winter to...

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