Challenges and Tricks to Growing Pecans in California

Out here in California, we’re relative newcomers to the pecan industry. There are some smaller plantings that were planted in the late ‘50s and ‘60s, but most of the commercial plantings didn’t start going in until the mid-1970s. And the state’s largest orchard wasn’t planted until 1980. With that being the case, we’ve had the...

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A row of trees have clusters of yellowed leaves.

Iron—Essential to Humans and to Pecans

All of us at some point in our attendance at various pecan industry events across the Pecan Belt have heard discussions of essential elements that are required by plants and especially those required to successfully grow pecan trees with relatively optimal yields, even though there may be some differences depending on the region where they’re...

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A adult black pecan aphid and her nymphs sit on the yellow, chlorotic spot that they created on this once green pecan leaf.

Pecan Aphids, Part II: Feeding Biology

In the first of this three-part series on the pecan-feeding aphids (March 2019), I covered how different aphid species distribute on pecan foliage. At the end of that article, we questioned why nymphs of the blackmargined pecan aphid and yellow pecan aphid favor the underside of the pecan leaf, but a proportion of black pecan...

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Microsprinklers water a tree.

June’s the time to get it right!

June is generally accepted as the start of summer. Out in the West, some years feel like summer starts at the end of May and continues through to Halloween. June is also the beginning of the most critical phases of our growing season. We have made it through budbreak and pollination, hopefully without incident, and...

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Catkins on a 'Wichita' pecan tree.

Pecan Flowering: Genesis of the Nut

One thing is for sure, just when you think you have something figured out, nature will turn around and show you differently. In my position thus far, I find myself making recommendations all the time, but I often have to remind myself not to make too specific generalizations for doing things one way across all...

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Logbook entry from 1891 from USDA

Family Trees: Looking back, Going forward

Every grafted pecan tree is full of stories that can be confusing to someone not involved in the pecan industry. I want to tell the origin stories of three cultivars: ‘Western’ (the most important scion cultivar for the western region), ‘Riverside’ (an important rootstock cultivar for the West), and ‘Longfellow’ (which has recently been confirmed...

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hands holding soil

The Soil is Alive

If you eliminate the other environmental factors (i.e., water, light, temperature), it could be agreed that growing an optimum crop with maximum yield potential is ultimately limited by the health and condition of the soil. This is especially true when your crop is a perennial crop like our pecan tree. After all, a healthy soil...

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Reflect, Recognize, Resolve

The end of December is always a time of personal retrospection, looking back on the year to see what went as planned and what didn’t; what was accomplished and what wasn’t. It’s a time to think about ways we did things just right or mistakes we made and how we’re going to make next year...

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An orchard in Arizona during the fall.

Colors of Fall, Colors of Health

Before I get into writing on another topic in pecans here, I want to take a moment and extend my deepest sympathy to our pecan friends who may have been injured or even worse affected by Hurricane Michael that swept through the lower southeastern pecan production region last month. One thing for sure, we all...

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No Holding Back, Good ‘Ole H20

Let’s face it. Fruiting is a high-stress event for any tree. If there are other stresses compounding this event, either this year’s fruit quality or next year’s performance will be impacted significantly. As a perennial crop, ultimately what you do this year sets that crop up for success or failure next year. However, there are...

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What’s the Scoop on Nitrogen?

Nitrogen is a “building block” of a vast array of plant biochemicals. To farm pecans successfully, you probably don’t need to know the names of all of these, but you’ve definitely already heard of some of them: – amino acids and proteins: including enzymes that make all of the biological processes in the plant actually...

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Grafting—Some Kind of Magic

In my experiences so far in the pecan industry, I have had the pleasure of meeting many fine folks with some outstanding skills. I just returned from the Western Pecan Growers Conference and added new friends to my contacts. It is fascinating to observe the many diverse skills some of us may acquire along our...

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The cotton square borer -- a fuzzy, green caterpillar -- crawls along a cluster of fruitlets. It has already eaten into several of the fruitlets.

An Unusual Insect: Just a Pest, Not a Threat

There is always “firsts” in the business of Cooperative Extension duties. First time seeing this. first time dealing with that. Back in early to mid-May, just after most catkins were dried up and the pecan female flower pollinated, I experienced a “first” while making farm visits with a certified Pest Control Advisor (PCA) and Certified...

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Transitioning from flood to micro irrigation

Recently I gave a presentation on transitioning to micro-irrigation at the Western Pecan Growers Association conference in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I thought I would present the same information here so that I can expand further on some of these considerations and reach some growers who may have missed the conference but are considering this...

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Mechanical Pruning in the West

It has become abundantly clear in the past 10 years that mechanical topping and siding (hedging or mechanical pruning) is the best method currently available for light management in pecan orchards in the West. People have been experimenting with numerous different strategies for mechanical pruning for a very long time. In particular, I think we...

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The “Other” Micronutrients

It is well known that most pecan orchards, especially out here in the West, require zinc fertilizers for normal leaf expansion, shoot growth, and nut production. And in the past 5 years or so, most pecan growers have become proficient at spotting the telltale signs of nickel deficiency. But very rarely is there any discussion...

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Stressing Out

No doubt a few of us have experienced firsthand how a “stressful” lifestyle — maybe worries about the economy or the kids — is bad news for our own health. Horticulturists and orchard managers also often speak about minimizing “stress” in our orchards so that we can maximize tree performance (and hopefully lower our own...

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Managing Crowding of Orchards in the West

Pecan trees LOVE the light. That’s really all there is to it. In their native habitat, young pecan trees can rapidly grow to great heights if given a nice patch of sunlight — then once they’ve surpassed all the other surrounding trees in height, they’ve got it made in the sun, so to speak. But...

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Irrigation Scheduling Using Soil Moisture Monitoring

I think just about everyone in the pecan industry already knows that maintaining water status in orchards is of utmost importance for consistently producing top pecan nut yields and top pecan nut quality. When trees become water stressed, photosynthesis slows, shoot growth stops, nuts drop, and the remaining kernels don’t fully fill—all bad things if...

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