LSU AgCenter pecan seminar addresses disease, insects, cultivars, fertilizers

Randy S. Sanderlin, Van Osdell, Mary Ann  |  3/12/2008 1:47:39 AM

News Release Distributed 03/05/08

It is the beginning of another pecan season, and faculty at the LSU AgCenter Pecan Station in Shreveport greeted it Feb. 28 with a spring seminar attended by 35 growers.

Pecan growing seasons are long, said Dr. Randy Sanderlin, research coordinator at the LSU AgCenter facility. He said pecan scab disease, a fungal disease that affects the shuck and the foliage of pecan trees, requires several preventive fungicide applications from spring through summer.

Control of insects is essential for profitable pecan production, said LSU AgCenter entomologist Dr. Mike Hall. Commercial producers must be equipped to spray at the proper times with the recommended insecticides.

Knowing how to look for major pests during the growing season is important to determine if an insecticide application is needed and when it should be applied, he said. And proper sprayer calibration is important.

Hall reviewed new insecticides labeled for pecans and said Temik has lost its registration for use on pecans.

He also cautioned growers on the importance of the pH of the water being used for spraying to ensure the optimum efficacy of the insecticide. If it’s out of range, the pH can be adjusted by using a buffering agent, he said.

LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Charlie Graham said lime increases soil pH, improves microbial activity and generally improves soil structure, but he cautioned that all liming materials are not created equal.

“Understand what you are purchasing,” Graham said. Liquid applications can provide better uniformity, but the down side is that growers must haul both water and lime across the field, he explained.

Alternative liming sources are marl or Selma chalk, finely ground oyster shells, egg shells, blast furnace slag and paper mill lime. Agricultural lime’s effectiveness depends on the degree of fineness because the reaction rate depends on the surface area in contact with the soil, Graham said.

Because the cost of limestone increases with fineness, materials that require minimal grinding yet contain enough fine material to change pH rapidly are preferred, Graham said.

Dr. John Pyzner, LSU AgCenter pecan and fruit specialist, addressed desirable traits of a cultivated variety. Those include large nut size, ease of shelling, increased yield and good disease resistance. Early-maturing varieties he mentioned are Barton, Pawnee and Candy.

The best cultivars for sprayed orchards, according to Pyzner, are Sumner, Moreland, Oconee, Pawnee, Caddo, Candy, Elliott and Kiowa. The best pecan cultivars for home planting are Sumner, Elliott, Candy, Jackson, Stuart, Moreland and Owens.

Pyzner said growers need to know what their customers want. For instance, the gift box trade needs early-maturing varieties and pretty, bright kernels.

Dr. David Boethel, vice chancellor of the LSU AgCenter, updated the group on the status of the Interstate 69 interchange proposed to go through the Pecan Station.

He said the state Department of Transportation and Development was surveying a month ago and talked about the possibility of clipping a southern corner of the station rather than constructing right through it.

“If they can move it that far, they can move the whole highway,” Boethel said.

He said the LSU AgCenter has brought the issue of diverting the route to the attention of the Congressional delegation.

“But it doesn’t hurt to hear from the grassroots beneficiaries of what goes on here,” he said.

The research station has been in continuous operation since 1930 when it was a unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It has been a part of the LSU AgCenter since 1973. It represents the only land-grant university research station devoted solely to pecan research and extension programming to support the pecan industry – not only in Louisiana but in the Mid-South and the entire pecan-growing region of the southeastern United States.

“I have a soft spot in my heart for the Pecan Station,” said Boethel, who started his career there. “This is part of a land-grant university started in 1862.”

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Contact:
Dr. Randy Sanderlin at (318) 797-8034, or rsanderlin@agcenter.lsu.edu

Writer:
Mary Ann Van Osdell at (318) 741-7430, ext. 1104, or mvanosdell@agcenter.lsu.edu

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