Trying Again After the Storm

By now, everyone is familiar with the havoc wrought by Hurricane Michael on the Georgia pecan industry back in October. Half the Georgia crop was lost along with over 740,000 trees, resulting in a loss equivalent to approximately 17 percent of Georgia’s pecan acreage and an estimated total of $560 million in losses to the...

Read more

Low Input Doesn’t Mean ‘No’ Input

Pecan Scab! Just mentioning this fungal disease makes grower’s grab their wallets. Ask just about any pecan scientist or grower and you will get the same answer. Pecan scab is the most economically important disease of pecan in the southeastern United States. It can devastate the leaves and nuts of susceptible cultivars in humid regions...

Read more

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...

Read more
Black splotches on pecan nutlets show evidence of pecan scab.

Scab Battle Heats Up, Watch for These 3 Factors

Planting resistant cultivars, planting on elevated land, and improving the orchard’s airflow are three key factors in managing pecan scab. However, for existing orchards, it is too late at this point in the season to do much about these variables. So, we are left with the most direct line of defense—fungicide application. Regarding this route...

Read more

Pecan Root Knot Nematode: A Hidden Problem

Certain problems you encounter in growing pecan trees have characteristic symptoms and have been such obvious problems through the years that they have been studied extensively and have well-defined methods of treatment. Pecan scab, mouse ear, and zinc deficiency would fall into this category. But sometimes pecan trees may suffer from less obvious symptoms, and...

Read more

A New Year, A New Crop to Care For

So much can change over a short period of time. I often look back to previous year’s conditions to compare with present conditions. Last year, many growers, especially those that had other fruit crops in addition to their pecan trees, were very concerned about the shortage of cold weather received over the 2016-2017 winter. It...

Read more

Pruning: A Proven Planting Method

The tree-planting trend continues here in the Southeast. I don’t know of a single nursery in Georgia that has trees available for planting now unless you booked way in advance, and many nurseries are rapidly booking up for the 2019 crop as well. So, with all the trees being planted and with the damage growers...

Read more

Two Months Post-Irma, We’re Still Learning

Back in September, Georgia pecan growers got to experience what it would be like to grow pecans on the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Irma followed Interstate 75 directly up the Florida peninsula into Georgia with sustained winds of 20-40 mph and gusts reaching from 50-75 mph, something our friends in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana are all...

Read more

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....

Read more

Irrigation and Fertilization of Young Pecan Trees

Most pecan growers are understandably eager to get young pecan trees into production. Aside from weed control, the two most important factors in doing this are irrigation and fertilization. Until recently there were no research-based recommendations for these two very important requirements. Before I get into these two topics, a word about site selection. The...

Read more

Warm Winter May Spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E

The last couple of weeks have been busy, beginning with a trip to Mississippi for the Southeastern Pecan Growers Association Conference. That was followed by a trip to Las Cruces, New Mexico, for the Western Pecan Growers Association Conference. While both educational programs provided information on a wide range of topics, the meetings also allow...

Read more

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...

Read more

Liebig’s Law of the Minimum

Last month, Monte Nesbitt provided us with a great overview on biotic and abiotic stresses that pecan trees had to deal within the 2016 growing season. He also called out researchers and extension specialists (and I agree with him) for too often generalizing a problem with the “tree stress” response. Since I am as guilty...

Read more

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...

Read more

The Good and Bad of Abundant Precipitation

Last month, Monte Nesbitt shared information on the impact that above-average precipitation has had on pecan scab infection on several new varieties. Early spring rains allowed researchers and growers to get a unique look at how pecan nuts would fair when exposed to extreme scab pressure. While this provided us with great information on scab...

Read more

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...

Read more

Pecans, FSMA and GAPs, Oh My!

This spring I have attended a number of pecan and commodity meetings at the parish, state and regional level. As I have talked with growers and processors of various commodities, it has become apparent that Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)/Good Handling Practices (GHP) Certification is gaining in importance and use across the nation. This type of...

Read more

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...

Read more

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...

Read more

Leaf Scorching of Young Pecan Trees, Part 2

Back in the November issue of Pecan South, I began a discussion on leaf scorching in young pecan trees. We’ve seen a lot of it lately and I believe most of what we are seeing is a cultural management issue involving difficulty with root establishment, particularly in intensively managed operations where the trees are pushed...

Read more

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...

Read more

Leaf Scorching of Young Pecan Trees, Part 1

There is a myriad of things that can cause leaf scorch on a young pecan tree including drought, water-logging, nutritional deficiencies, fertilizer burn, herbicide injury, bacterial leaf scorch, nematodes, anthracnose and other minor foliar diseases, etc. It can be and often is difficult in many cases to sort out the problem. Isolated incidents are usually...

Read more

Late Summer Shuck and Nut Problems

Last month, Monte Nesbitt gave us an overview on the importance of maintaining good foliage in pecan trees and a description of the insects and diseases that can cause defoliation in pecan orchards in the southeastern U.S. I thought it would be a good idea to follow up his article with a discussion on shuck...

Read more

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...

Read more

Mulching – overlooked and underutilized

It shouldn’t be surprising that pecan trees grow better when mulched, as mulching mimics the natural state of trees growing in a forest where the forest floor is covered with a layer of decaying organic matter. Roots developing underneath this layer are growing in a favorable environment, where temperature and moisture are more uniform, soil...

Read more

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...

Read more

How much fertilizer do young pecan trees need?

Root dry weight typically comprises 55-70 percent of total tree dry weight one year following transplant, which suggests that pecan tree transplants direct most of their resources to root establishment in the first growing season in the orchard. Pecan trees in the first two to three years of establishment have a limited root system compared...

Read more

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...

Read more

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...

Read more

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...

Read more

Bot canker on pecan

Young pecan trees are a big investment and we hate to see them get weak, decline, or up and die. I’ve seen a lot of young tree die-back this year. While much of this has been related to cold damage, some trees are feeling the effects of a subtle problem that often goes unnoticed until...

Read more

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...

Read more

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...

Read more

Don’t over-manage young trees

We’ve seen an incredible number of pecan trees planted over the last few years and at this point, it’s not slowing down. As the planting of pecan trees across the southeastern pecan belt continues this winter, I thought it would be a good time to discuss some of the issues I’ve dealt with over the...

Read more

If not ‘Desirable’, what?

Desirable has been the mainstay cultivar in the Southeast for many years, surpassing ‘Stuart’ for the lead in new plantings many years back. And, it has been the mainstay for good reasons. Consistent production is the hallmark of ‘Desirable’. For many years, as a pecan consultant, I have had a task of estimating pecan crops...

Read more

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...

Read more

How was your foliage this year?

Foliage retention until the first’ frost has always been a goal of pecan producers in order to keep the trees healthy and productive from year to year. It’s been tough to maintain good foliage health this year due to the ravages of scab, anthracnose, downy spot, zonate leaf spot, nutritional imbalances, and most significantly black...

Read more

The pecan cultivar trial at Friendship Pecans

A pecan cultivar trial inviting industry-wide cooperation has been established at Friendship Pecans near Albany, Georgia. Our hope is that as many of the most-promising selections from all over the U.S. as possible can be evaluated side-by-side in one location. The experiment, initially, will have 4 trees each of 160 selections in a randomized complete...

Read more

Mechanical crop thinning in the West

Pecan crop load management can be done in several ways. Hedging reduces crop in the short-term on the trees that are hedged. Since hedging is done routinely in the West, my discussion will focus more on crop load management by mechanical crop thinning. In this method, pioneered by Mike Smith, Ph.D., and others in Oklahoma...

Read more

What’s in your tank?

There’s a popular credit card advertisement that asks the question, “What’s in your wallet?” Well, if you’re a pecan farmer, the answer to that question may be less money, unless you’re careful about how you budget your expenses. There’s no question that you have to spend money to grow pecans. But, you can spend a...

Read more

Pecan cultivar recommendations for the Southeast – 2013 update

Major advances in pecan cultivar development and selection have occurred in the past few years, requiring extensive evaluations and frequent updating of recommendations. Because the Alabama pecan industry has smaller growers, often without the equipment or economic incentive to spray intensively with large airblast sprayers, we have focused on pest-resistance to reduce spray requirements. We...

Read more

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...

Read more
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...

Read more

Pecan anthracnose in the Southeast

In 2011, those of us in the Southeast got to experience what it was like to grow pecans in the desert. Fortunately, we’ve seen more rainfall in the Southeast during 2012 than we saw last year. After all, it wouldn’t take much. While we have been thrilled with each rain we received, rainfall and pecan...

Read more

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,...

Read more

Ease into new cultivars

The recent booming pecan market has led to a renewal of the pecan industry. Acreage is on the rise and new people are looking to pecans as a crop and as a wise investment. With this, has come a great interest in pecan cultivars, particularly the new ones. I have kept largely silent on this topic...

Read more

Clover Benefits Orchard Soil Quality

Orchard soil health is the basis of everything that takes place in the pecan orchard. The bottomland soils on which pecans grow in their native range vary considerably from those on upland sites where the trees are cultivated and grown commercially in the southeastern U.S. The loamy bottomland ridges to which pecans are adapted typically...

Read more

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...

Read more

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...

Read more

Pecan Weed Control Options

Pecan producers are fairly limited in their choice of herbicide options. We have basically three burndown herbicides available for use on pecan. These include glyphosate, paraquat and glufosinate (Rely). Glyphosate is the old standby that has been used for years. When it first came out, glyphosate seemed like a miracle herbicide. Its systemic activity killed...

Read more

Apply Herbicides On Soil!

Many pecan growers, we’ve observed, think you should spray herbicides onto existing weeds, rather than onto soil. This concept is true for that class of herbicides referred to as post-emergence, like glyphosate (Roundup, many others) or Gramoxone. Several problems can develop if you limit your herbicide use to post-emergence herbicides only. One problem is you...

Read more

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...

Read more

What’s Georgia Planting?

The Chinese appetite for pecans has placed a spotlight on our crop, which is increasing in popularity. This has led to a pecan acreage increase in Georgia, which from the phone calls and visits I have had, does not appear to be subsiding. Pecan nurseries have been unable to provide enough trees to keep up...

Read more

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...

Read more

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...

Read more

Don’t Stop Irrigation, Yet

Most growers are aware that the most critical time for adequate irrigation in pecans is during kernel filling from mid-August to mid-September. However, the pecan tree’s demand for water does not end when kernel filling is complete. In general, pecans need about 55-60 inches of water per year. Depending on tree spacing and size, orchards...

Read more

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....

Read more

What Variety To Plant In The Southeast?

The most common question asked of pecan Extension specialists is “What variety should I plant?”. In the West where you may have primarily only two varieties that are commonly grown, it’s not that tough of a decision. In the Southeast, the variety question has no simple answer because we have a multitude of varieties to...

Read more

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....

Read more

Prepare To Fertilize!

The drought of this past year and previous years is but a distant memory today in most folk’s minds as many completed harvest in and around rain events. It is hard to believe exactly how dry 2009 really was. When you get to doubting how dry it really was, all you need to do is...

Read more

Scab: Pecan Enemy Number One

In the Southeast, the number one enemy of pecans is the fungus disease pecan scab. Growers were painfully reminded in the 2009 season of the severity and damage caused by this disease. In 2007, an on-year crop but a very dry season, Georgia produced 150 million pounds of pecans. In 2009, an on-year crop but...

Read more

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...

Read more

Good Agricultural Practices For Pecans

Over the last several years, agriculture has faced many challenges. Among these has been increased scrutiny resulting from various foodborne illnesses in multiple crops. Fortunately for us, pecans have been spared the brunt of this abuse so far. While many feel that food safety and the prevention of contamination are problems that only shellers and...

Read more