Thinning of Research Orchards

Randy S. Sanderlin, Burnham, Katherine S.  |  10/19/2010 1:26:41 AM

Prior to thinning, the spacing in the Pecan Research-Extension Station's plant pathology research orchard was 39 ft. by 39 ft.

Prior to thinning, the spacing in the Pecan Research-Extension Station's rootstock orchard was 30 ft. by 40 ft.

Trees were cut near ground level.

After every other tree was taken out during thinning, the new spacing in the plant pathology orchard is 78 ft. within rows and 55 ft. diagonally.

After every other tree was taken out during thinning, the new spacing in the rootstock orchard is 60 ft. within rows and 50 ft. diagonally.

The tree-cutting machine grabbed the trees as they were cut, preventing them from falling over, and then moved them to a nearby location.

After the tree was cut, the remaining tree stump is ground to ground level.

Trees were removed from the orchard in groups.

A partially thinned row in the pathology orchard shows tree spacing after thinning in the front and tree spacing before thinning in the background.

Overcrowded trees may be the number one cause of decreased nut production in older orchards through the southern United States. As trees become crowded and limbs begin to touch, nut production goes down dramatically. This is because trees are competing for a limited supply of water, nutrients and sunlight. Opening up space between trees by thinning reduces root zone competition and sunlight blockage. Open space between trees also makes application of pesticides for insect and disease control more efficient.
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