Unleashing the Scarecrows

Crows belong to the genus Corvus, which is also the family that includes blue jays. Although there are probably more than forty species of crows, the ones that make life difficult for Oklahoma pecan growers are American Crows, and growers east of the Mississippi may also encounter Fish Crows. But a crow is a crow...

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Mixing Business with Pleasure

Kids across America are in great anticipation this month. The weight of school responsibilities has worn their welcome thin, and it’s about all teachers can do to keep their students’ attention for the next several weeks. I’m certainly not a teacher, but I can sympathize with the struggle they are facing. After all, I’m facing...

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Finding Beauty in Pecan Ashes

Sometimes failure hits you when you least expect it. When it does, I believe it’s important to seek beauty in the ashes. That was the case for us in May as we sought to find beauty from pecan ashes. I wish that was a symbolic term, but unfortunately, it’s not. If there is one thing...

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APC Must Do a Little With a Lot

While I am sure most of you are aware of it, the American Pecan Council, established by the Federal Marketing Order, has largely been put in place with a full board of directors and alternates and now the hiring of an executive director and an assistant. All of this did not happen overnight. But with...

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Harvest Sights and Sounds at Sunnyland

These photos of harvest at Sunnyland Farms near Albany, Georgia, are certain to evoke the sounds, the smells and the feel of the earth moving for pecan growers who experience this special event every fall. These photos were taken by Emily Myers, executive director of the National Pecan Shellers Association (E.M. Connor Photography).   NPSA...

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Goodbye to a Good Friend

I lost a good friend in the pecan industry on the 28th of June. Mr. Jim Graves, 91, passed away of natural causes on that day. Jim came to the pecan industry late in life after a successful career in the tunnel construction industry. Jim was a naval officer in World War II in the...

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Lessons learned (again) in 2013

2013 was an interesting year in the pecan world and it appears 2014 is following in its footsteps, at least in the Southeast. Record summer rainfall gave way to a dry harvest period and then right back into a wet pattern in December. Cold temperatures, rain, snow, sleet and ice have all made their mark...

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Two Silent Tree Killers

I am writing this month to discuss 2 silent killers that rob tree vitality and yield over the course of time, without most growers noticing until the damage is extreme. The first of these is the Prionus Root Borer, which attacks many different species of trees including pecan. This pest is present in varying degrees...

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Scab Strangles in the South

We are through the first week of August now and have accumulated record rainfall so far this year. At 50 inches plus we are at our annual rainfall total for an average year. After several years of drier than normal weather we have been caught with our pants down to some degree. There is no...

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native pecan tree estimated to be 200 years old

Regeneration is a Fact of Life

Regeneration in the present context will be defined as ‘to restore to original strength’ or ‘to restore to a better, higher or more worthy state’. A pecan orchard must then, by definition, be regenerated because a pecan tree will not produce forever. In the mid-1970s after we initially purchased some land along the Verdigris River,...

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Time for a Change

It is with some sadness that I am announcing that I will no longer be writing a regular column for Pecan South. While I expect that I may continue to contribute something to the magazine from time to time I really feel that it is time for me to give way to some new blood....

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2012 in review

The 2012 crop in the East started a month early and it appears that it will end a month early also. By the time you read this, the crop should be in the bag with perhaps some minor clean up in progress. This has been a different year to say the least. This crop has...

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2012 SE Crop Update

It is the middle of October now and we are 10 days to 2 weeks ahead of our normal harvest schedule. It is beginning to look like the crop here is not quite as large as earlier forecast. It is still a good off-year crop but some farms are currently running 15-20 percent under last...

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Concluding the Varieties Discussion

Over the past 2 months, I have covered, from a grower’s standpoint, several varieties that, while older, have done well for me and others over the long haul. While this is not to say that many of the new varieties that have been released, both public and private, will not do well over time, I...

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Varieties worth considering (Part II)

In my last column, I wrote about two varieties, ‘Desirable’ and ‘Kiowa’, that I consider two of my favorite selections for the main variety in a new orchard in the East. To these I add a third, ‘Creek’, released by the USDA in 1996. In my experience, this tree is very precocious, does well in...

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Part 1: Varieties Worth Considering

For some time I have been considering what varieties to plant in some new orchards we are establishing. I have read and studied many of the new releases and, while interesting to me in some cases, long-term field data is missing on these. True performance can only be assessed after the variety is in a...

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Looking at the 2012 Crop

I have just returned from a few days in the central valley of California, the heart of tree nut production in North America and perhaps the world. When you have driven for hour upon hour past field after field of citrus, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, grapes, alfalfa, fruit trees, olives,  and every vegetable imaginable, you realize...

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Out and About

The Georgia Pecan Growers Association recently concluded its annual meeting in Perry, Georgia. While I was unable to attend the entire meeting it appeared there was a very large turnout. There is more and more interest in the industry now that it has turned profitable. As far as this year’s crop in the Southeast goes,...

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Another year already?

Bud break on ‘Desirable’ occurred in South Georgia on March 10, a record for earliness as far as I can find out. It has been the shortest winter season I can remember. We just shipped the last of the 2011 crop and we are starting on the new crop already. We are scrambling to get...

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60-day countdown

It is early February and depending on your location you have approximately 60 days until budbreak. By the time you read this you should be deep into those off-season projects for improving and maintaining a good orchard. Skips replanted, drainage improved, pruning and/or hedging well underway, sprayers undergoing maintenance for this summer, soil samples taken,...

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Time Marches On

I have just finished reading the first column I wrote for Pecan South. That was March of 2005, 7 years ago. It is interesting to see what has run true with what I wrote and what I was dead wrong about. Sometimes one has to study history to learn what not to do in the future...

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A Curious Letter

A couple of days ago I received a letter, one that piqued my curiosity. It did that because of two things: first of all there was no return address and, secondly, the address was to me at a farm address that no longer exists, indicating the label came off a mailing list that was not...

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Fall is Here Once Again

We had received some nuts into our cleaning plant last week and were beginning to tune it up when rain struck Georgia. After going the whole summer without much rain to speak of and just when harvest is ready to get underway, wouldn’t you know it — rain! It has been raining here for 3...

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2011 and Beyond

The National Pecan Shellers Association meeting was held in mid-September and they estimated the U.S. crop at 277 million pounds. As I write this, I do not have the breakdown by state but I am sure Cindy will have it elsewhere in the magazine. If you average NPSA’s 277 million with the various grower group...

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Accountability

A few months ago I remember writing about how excited I was with all the new things going on in the industry with U.S. Pecan being formed, an industry-wide coordinated research effort spearheaded by OSU’s Mike Smith, and more research projects by the shelling industry, etc. Growers were excited about a decent profit and more...

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Changing Times

On July 9, in the Albany, Georgia Herald newspaper an extensive article on the pecan business was printed. It was a good article that covered many parts of the business and interviewed people that participate in different areas of the business. Growing, academics, sales and processing were all covered. What really struck me though was a single...

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New Pecan Lands: Argentina

Last month my wife, partner and I had the opportunity to visit a new (to me) country and observe a fledgling pecan industry getting its legs under it. We spent 5 days traveling the northeastern part of Argentina with our gracious hosts, Miguel and Karen Blanchard, and Alejandro and Carmen Llanos. While pecans have been...

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Views on the 2011 Crop

In reviewing the farms that I manage, it appears that we have a good crop coming on. We are yet to get through the “June drop” so things can still change but terminal counts and observations support an estimate for our orchards that is consistent with our production in 2009 and 2010. To extrapolate that...

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Climate Changes Contributing To Orchard Decline

After decades of pecan farming in central Texas, I have begun to see major changes in my orchard, which makes it more difficult to conduct seasonal activities like spraying, etc. My educational background is in engineering and meteorology, and as I began to read more and more of the scientific research about the earth’s changing...

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Now It’s Time to Farm!

We have spent the winter going to meetings, talking about what might have been or might be in the future and in general being optimistic about what lies ahead for the industry. All is well and good as it should be, but now begins the time when we have to produce the crop we are...

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Dig Deep and Make it Work!

On Feb. 26, I attended a meeting of the National Pecan Growers Council held at the Beau Rivage Hotel in Biloxi, Mississippi, in conjunction with the Southeastern Pecan Growers Association meeting. We were exposed to the work that the National Pecan Growers Council has been doing in obtaining and using funds from two federal programs...

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Food Safety and You

Many of you will say that food safety does not pertain to you on the farm but you would be wrong — more wrong than you can imagine. Recently Congress passed and the President signed the first major legislation revising and enlarging food safety law in many years. With the exception of those items that...

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A New Era for Pecans

In preparation for tax filing and for this coming season’s financing, I have just finished preliminary profit and loss statements for 2010. As was expected, our farming operations had a very profitable year with prices being what they are. The other side of the coin was our fundraising and gift business. That was not so...

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What to Blame?

It is now early January, the crop is in and thoughts turn, hopefully, to what went wrong last year and how I can correct it this coming season. I have seen a couple of articles in the past month that have tried to fix the reason or reasons for the poor crop in the eastern part...

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Crop Failure

It is now the middle of November and it has become quite obvious that this is the year of the crop that never was in the Southeast. Never again will I forget the old adage that “a short crop gets shorter”. I am going to tattoo that on my forehead. I do believe that we...

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Odds and Ends

Harvest began in Georgia in early October with ‘Pawnees’, moving on to ‘Creek’ and ‘Elliott’ around mid month. ‘Stuarts’ and ‘Desirables’ as well as other varieties followed in the latter half of the month. Because of my lead time in writing this, I cannot give you much in the way of current quality or price...

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Time For A New Pricing Structure?

As new estimates for the 2010 crop come out and as I observe the crop around my home area, I realize that this will be a fairly large “off” year crop. In addition, walnut production is forecast to be double what it was two years ago and up 17 percent from last year. This tells...

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Pre-Harvest Activity

It appears that this is one year that a small crop got larger, which does not happen very often. Here in the Southeast, the potential is very good this year. A little scab here and there from early rains but I do not think that it will have much effect on the total crop. We...

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Scab Control Update

Last year and this year have been tough years for scab control in the eastern part of the growing belt. Wet weather has created more challenges in controlling this disease the past two years than we have seen in some time. Because of this, I thought I might revisit the issue and add some things...

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A Look at the 2010 Crop

By the time you read this the first crop estimate of the year will have been made at the Louisiana pecan meeting. I have no idea what that estimate will be. The past 6 “off” years’ production for the U.S. has averaged about 195 million pounds. I have heard 2010 estimates for Mexico of about...

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Livestock and Pecans? No!

Most of you probably don’t realize that most of the early part of my life was spent as a cowboy. I was born on a 300,000-acre cattle ranch in California in 1949. The farm I grew up on in Arizona also operated several thousands of acres of desert range and my family currently operates a...

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Commodity Commissions

As most of you know, for many years I have been a proponent of a federal research and promotion order to collect mandatory funds to use in research and for the promotion of our product in the marketplace. I am about to change my mind on this because of problems that I perceive with our...

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Spring Brings New Possibilities

As we start a new decade, the people in the pecan industry have as much optimism as I can ever remember, and with good reason. Prices have been good for the grower and for the sheller. Consumption is high and with the industry going into an “off” year, supplies will likely continue at a level...

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Tree Hedging In The Southeast

By way of some background information, we started renovating or converting many of our old orchards to new varieties as many as 20 years ago. The orchards we are farming were planted in the early 20th century, around 1920, give or take. Of course, without the fertilizer, pest control and irrigation methods of today, they...

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Time To Move On

We are into February now and many of us did not really finish harvest and clean up until at least mid-January if not later. This creates a short off season for us to do those things in the orchard that we need to before spring comes. With all the chill hours that the eastern part...

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A New Year, a New Time

As I sit at my desk writing this month’s column, there is a cold, steady rain falling outside. It is Sunday morning and the first day off I have had since mid-October. I have been enjoying the fire in the living room fireplace, a cup of coffee with my wife, our new dog Pepper at...

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