Category Archives: Pecans

Pecan Pruning Clinic – Brooks County

YoungPecans (3)The Brooks County office is going to host a pecan pruning clinic on Thursday, January 19th beginning at 10:00 am. The meeting will cover information related to the pruning of young pecan trees and planting demonstrations.

Dr. Lenny Wells, UGA Pecan specialist will be demonstrating pruning techniques and available to answer questions related to pecan planting &/or production. For additional references & resource, they will have educational material related to program topics.

Location

This meeting will be held in orchard at Mr. Jim Loar’s orchard, 1677 Adel Highway (Hwy. 76), Quitman.  This meeting is sponsored by Cool Planet and will end with lunch at noon.  So that we may plan for program and meal, please RSVP to our office (229-263-4103) by Tuesday, January 17th.

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Will Stuarts Open?

A big concern right now for pecan growers is the delay in ‘Stuart’ shuck split. UGA Extension Pecan Specialist Dr. Lenny Wells has answered calls on this subject. He says, for the most part, they will. The delay in Stuart shuck split should not really come as a surprise. Stuart always has a prolonged shuck split. Stuarts never all open at once as they do for some varieties.

Pecans-ShuckSplit 003Dr. Wells says this characteristic of Stuart is well documented. Dr. Darrell Sparks’ 1992 book, Pecan Cultivars has this to say regarding Stuart shuck split: “”.

It should be no surprise that not all Stuart nuts are still not open. A couple of things have made this seem like a greater problem than normal:

  1.  This year’s nut maturity has been running behind last year’s all season and many growers have been anxious and under the gun to fill mid-November contract orders due to the early Chinese New Year. This has led to many growers shaking Stuarts before they were really ready. Obviously in that situation you only get a few nuts down and especially on the first early shake you get a lot of green nuts out. Many growers have shaken Stuarts twice already and because the shuck split is so drawn out they get the same results on the second shake and this generates alarm but I believe the rest of these nuts will open, although obviously not for mid November contracts.
  2. We are in a severe drought. Many areas of Georgia’s pecan belt have had no rain since early September. Even with irrigation this has delayed shuck split on Stuart even more. Also, many growers turned their irrigation systems off too early or never turned them back on after harvesting individual orchards for the first time. With a heavy crop load, this will create additional stress and you will see a further delay in shuck split, sprouting, and shuck decline or stick-tights. Trees at the extreme of this situation will likely have nuts that may not open but the only real chance to get them open (outside of a good rain) is to turn the irrigation back on. It sounds crazy for us in the SE to irrigate pecans into November but when it is this dry it becomes necessary. You don’t have to water much but irrigate for 4-6 hours a couple of times a week—or every other day if you have trees in the situation described above.

Don’t expect to get all of your Stuart crop in until at least December or until we have a good rain and/or some cold weather. I think if growers look back at their records they will see that, for the most part, this is normally the case.

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2016 Pecan Market Prices & Harvest Update

We have some very good reports of pecan grades coming in from last week, at least in Pawnee’s and nuts which have been harvested. Click this link to check Current Pecan Market Price. You take the price per point and multiply by the kernel percentage to get price. They are updated throughout the season at this link. UGA Extension Pecan Specialist Dr. Lenny Wells gave us this update today:

The pecan harvest picked up momentum this week as many growers began harvesting Desirable, Stuart, and other mid-harvest season varieties. Desirables seem to be shaking out well while Stuart is probably not quite ready to really come out as we would like. I expect they won’t really shake well in most orchards for another couple of weeks. However, many growers with mid-November contracts are now under the gun and have to proceed and sacrifice a few green nuts to meet their contracts. Growers in East Georgia are still dealing with cleanup from the last storm and are trying to harvest around the debris in some cases. Prices remain very strong.

The most common question I have regards the drought throughout most of the state, not impacted by the Hurricane. Most of these areas have not seen rain since early September, and conditions are terribly dry. It makes for good harvest weather, but many growers are concerned about the tree’s water needs at this time. For mature trees, Continue irrigation at about 40% until shuck split is advanced enough to shake, then turn irrigation off 4-5 days prior to shaking to allow shucks to dry. My observation has been that this helps them to shake out better. After going over the orchard, turn water back on for about 6-8 hours a couple of times a week until we get a 1″ rain.

In many cases, hot weather like we are seeing puts some varieties that tend to spread out their shuck split, like Stuart, at risk for sprouting. So, that is a possibility under our current conditions.

Immature trees may benefit from irrigation once a week for 4-5 hours until rain arrives or until they lose their leaves. Don’t over-water young trees at this time of year because you don’t want to delay them going into dormancy and put them at a greater risk for cold damage when the cold weather arrives.

We do have a newly published extension bulletin on Pecan Water Requirements and Irrigation Scheduling. This is for mature trees only.

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Irrigation & Other Considerations Before Pecan Harvest

UGA Pecan Specialist Dr. Lenny Wells has been observing varieties and irrigation as we approach harvest:

Pawnees are being harvested this week and many other varieties are experiencing shuck split. I have seen Elliott, Oconee, Caddo, Creek, and Excel opening this week as expected. This means that these varieties will likely be ready for harvest in 2-3 weeks where we are now seeing shuck split. Also, surprisingly we are seeing shuck split begin on Cape Fear and even Stuart, although Stuart is notorious for having a few nuts on which the shucks split, then they slow down and a few more open in a couple of weeks. I still think we are about a week later than last year’s harvest.

Shuck Split Cape Fear - Dr. Lenny Wells

Shuck Split Cape Fear – Dr. Lenny Wells

It appears that we probably won’t see a repeat of the problems we saw on Oconee last year, at least not as severe as it was last season. I have cut many Oconee nuts throughout the state and have not seen any of the bad, gooey kernels characteristic of last year’s Oconee crop. They seem to be well sized and filled out nicely.

Oconee Kernel Fill - Dr. Lenny Wells

Oconee Kernel Fill – Dr. Lenny Wells

Irrigation Approaching Harvest?

Continue with irrigation through shuck split until enough nuts have split to shake the trees for the first harvest. Water aids in advancing shuck-split. Its still very dry in most of the state. Cut irrigation rates to about 1/2 of full capacity until ready to shake for the first harvest or until you get a 1″-2″ rain.

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North Florida Pecan Field Day – October 4th

Each fall, a pecan field day is held in North Florida for pecan growers in our region. Pecan specialists from UF and UGA provide updates in pecan production.

Tuesday, October 4 – 8:30 AM to 2:00 PM

North Florida Research & Education Center – Quincy

155 Research Road, Quincy, FL 32351

The 2016 Florida Pecan Field Day will provide the latest research information for commercial pecan growers. This is a free, sponsored event but we do ask that you call the Jackson County Extension Office office to RSVP at (850)482-9620 or email Matt Lollar at mlollar@ufl.edu.

The Workshop Topics Will Include:

  • Enterprise Budget for Pecan Production
  • Production Potential of Other Crops In Conjunction With Pecan for Enterprise Diversification: Fundamental Biological, Ecological & Pest Management Considerations
  • Phosphorus Banding in Pecans
  • Grove Establishment & Rejuvenation
  • Pecan Research Plot Tour
  • Annual Meeting – Florida Pecan Growers Association

Visit this blog post on Panhandle Ag e-News to register.

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Post Hermine

Things could have been much worse for us in the path of the hurricane/tropical storm last week. We seemed to be above the eye and did not have terribly damaging winds that counties in Southeast GA experienced. Friday morning I rode around and assessed some damage, looking at cotton and pecans. Damage is enough to rate, but could’ve been much worse.

Pecans

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Our pecan crop has more obvious damage with broken limbs and fallen trees. Trees fallen over are mostly between 10 and 15 years old, since their root systems have not completely established. In every orchard, you will see some trees down. We also have many limbs broken and nuts on the ground. Some growers will leave trees on the ground until harvest. UGA Pecan Horticulturalist Dr. Lenny Wells has this advice for pecan growers:

Attempts to save uprooted trees are generally unsuccessful. Trees completely uprooted or blown to the ground should probably not be righted, because of poor survival. If trees are 10–12 years old or younger, or have trunks less than ≈12 inches in diameter, survival rate is usually much better. There is also greater likelihood of recovery from uprooting if the soil is extremely wet when the trees blow down and major roots are unbroken. If major roots are broken, these trees sometimes survive, but they are usually not thrifty and easily uprooted again. Pruning such trees back could aid in their survival.

Experience with these storms indicates that small trees should be righted quickly, before roots exposed to the air are killed. Righting of trees should be done when the soil is wet to prevent further root injury. Such trees will usually remain productive, especially if the canopy is pruned back to balance the loss of roots. Hurricanes and tropical storms often cause trees to lean at various angles. The roots of leaning trees may or may not be pulled out of the ground, but often have sustained some injury. Long-term survival of leaning trees is unpredictable. Some Trees blown over to ≈45° angles have remained productive for at least 20 years without straightening. Still, other trees leaning at small angles died a few years later. Straightening of leaning trees after the tree is dormant tends to be effective only with small trees (i.e., trunks less than ≈12″ diameter). Again, wet soil conditions facilitate survival. Straightened trees usually require support from frames or wires. Subsequent nut yields from such trees are usually good if tree vigor is not noticeably diminished.

hurricanehermine-004

Cotton

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Most of our cotton has been blown over and laying close to the ground. Some of the questions have been about will cotton stand back up. While blasting peanuts, some growers who have experienced this before say that it will. UGA Cotton Agronomist Dr. Jared Whitaker talks about how the plants are the heaviest they will be as bolls are still closed. As bolls open, we will lose about half of our weight. This will allow plants to stand back up some. If, however, plants are tangled they won’t have the chance to stand back up. Much of what I saw in our trial is plants fallen over and tangled.

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Fruit Thinning & Irrigation Scheduling

Pecans 007

We’ve had scattered rain so far this season, and nuts are beginning to size. Our scab levels are low thanks to  fungicide sprays and scattered rain. This is the period where our female flower is beginning to set physiologically in the tree, so any stress now is greater impact. There have been reports of aphids, and some growers have sprayed already. Here is some information from UGA Extension Horticulturalist Dr. Lenny Wells on fruit thinning:

Pecans 008For the brave souls willing to thin some nuts from heavily loaded trees, now is about the time for most of our mid-season cultivars. Varieties like ‘Creek’, ‘Stuart’ and ‘Cape Fear’ should be ready as early as (last) weekend and certainly by (this) week for most of south Georgia. See here for a previous post on fruit thinning and how to cut nuts to determine if your crop is ready to thin.

Even though it is hot and dry, if you plan to fruit thin, it is wise to turn off the irrigation a day or two prior to thinning in order to minimize the chances of bark damage to the tree. Also, with the hot, dry weather many growers are anxious to begin running their irrigation at 100% capacity. Bear in mind that we are still in the nut sizing stage on most cultivars with the exception of ‘Pawnee’ and a handful of other very early cultivars. We don’t need to go to full capacity until we enter the kernel-filling stage. If you have a September harvest cultivar like ‘Pawnee’ you should be operating at full capacity now in order to fill the nuts. For most other October harvest cultivars change your irrigation to full capacity about mid-August (another couple of weeks).

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