Pecan Orchard Spring Cleaning

Spring is always a busy time around a pecan orchard.  By now, we have marketed a large portion of our pecan crop and have been busy in our shop repairing harvest equipment.  The pecans that have been retained for the summer months are being processed and will be in cold storage as soon as completed. January and February were busy months cleaning up the pecan orchards.  There were many stick piles from the pecan harvest and they all have to be pushed up and burned.  This is no small undertaking and is often overlooked by some maintenance teams. Pecan scab can and does overwinter in the fallen pecan leaves, so destroying as many as possible is an important management tool. Not only will the pecan orchard look better, it will also have less scab spores.

Weeds in the Pecan Orchard

Having a wet spring, broad-leaf weeds and other grasses have begun to torment the pecan orchard.  Not only do they use up the moisture, but they also hide the sticks that the unsuspecting mower will find.  These weeds will continue to grow up into the hotter summer months. A Roundup strip sprayed at the tree bases keep these weeds in check.  My general rule of thumb is 1.5-2 quarts per acre on thick growth and 1 quart for follow up in 10 gallons of water per acre. This makes mowing much easier since you don’t have to weave around the pecan trees. A green section is left between the trees to support the spray equipment in the spring.  This greenbelt will have to be mowed at some point.

Burning tree limbs in the pecan orchard
Burning tree limbs in the pecan orchard

Texas Pecans and Livestock

Some people ask me from time to time if we use livestock such as cows, sheep or goats in our pecan operation. The orchards that are entirely pecans do not have livestock. They are managed differently than native river bottoms. Livestock limit the chemicals that can be used due to grazing restrictions. Most of the native pecan trees have pastureland adjacent to them and cows are allowed to graze beneath the trees. With this setup, in a normal year, shredding is only done twice. This happens once in early summer and once in early fall. These animals are removed in the fall prior to harvest. This has been a management system that has been very successful in the past.

Until next time, remember this about pecan operations: There is never a dull moment and no two years are the same.

-Winston Millican

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