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Pecan Orchard Establishment. Making Your Orchard Yield Nuts (and $) as Soon as Possible. Richard Heerema Extension Pecan Specialist New Mexico State University. Goals. Long-term goal—maximize economic returns over the life of the orchard.

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Pecan orchard establishment l.jpg

Pecan Orchard Establishment

Making Your Orchard Yield Nuts (and $) as Soon as Possible

Richard Heerema

Extension Pecan Specialist

New Mexico State University


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Goals

  • Long-term goal—maximize economic returns over the life of the orchard.

  • Short-term goal—reach economic production in the shortest time possible.

    • The kids gotta eat and bank’s gotta get paid!


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Important things I’m not going to dwell on today

  • Site selection

  • Pre-planting soil modifications

  • Nursery tree size

  • Potted vs. bareroot

  • Pre-plant tree care

  • Irrigation & nutrition


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Genetics: Cultivar Precocity

  • Precocity is the relative amount of time it takes for a tree to come into production.

  • Highly precocious cultivars have a tendency to over-bear once they are mature

    • alternate bearing

    • poor nut quality


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Genetics: Cultivar Precocity

Precocious

Very Precocious

Non-Precocious

‘Bradley’ (‘Ideal’)

‘Burkett’

‘Elliott’

‘Hopi’

‘Shawnee’

‘Stuart’

‘Tejas’

‘Apalachee’

‘Barton’

‘Cape Fear’

‘Cherokee’

‘Cheyenne’

‘Chickasaw’

‘Mohawk’

‘Shoshoni’

‘Wichita’

  • ‘Apache’

  • ‘Caddo’

  • ‘Choctaw’

  • ‘Desirable’

  • ‘Kanza’

  • ‘Kiowa’

  • ‘Lakota’

  • ‘Mandan’

  • ‘Nacono’

  • ‘Pawnee’

  • ‘Sioux’

  • ‘Success’

  • ‘Waco’

  • ‘Western’


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Genetics: Rootstock Vigor

  • Generally, high vigor and precocity are considered linked in pecan.

  • High vigor:

    • Cross-pollinated nuts

    • Complete dichogamy

    • Southern parentage


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Genetics: Rootstock Vigor

Higher Vigor

Lower Vigor

‘Elliott’

‘Moore’

‘VC1-68’

‘Wichita’

‘Shoshone’

‘Giles’

‘Riverside’

‘Stuart’

Moderate Vigor

‘Apache’

‘Bradley’

‘Burkett’

‘Curtis’


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Planting Density

  • Initially, yield should be proportional to tree planting density.


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Planting Density

*Hypothetical Example*


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Orchard Floor Management

Foshee et al, 1995



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Orchard Floor Management

Smith et al., 2005



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Training

  • Two truths:

    • Training young pecan trees is essential to growing a tree that is workable through the life of the orchard.

    • Pruning young pecan trees delays cropping.

Prune young pecan trees, but remove as little wood as possible!


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Training

Remove basal primary buds on central leader during dormant pruning.

Photo courtesy of Monte Nesbitt

Year 1

At Planting

Year 2

Use a combination of winter and early-summer pruning to minimize the amount of wood cut.



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