Orchard care enhances pecan production

Johnny Morgan  |  9/20/2016 9:06:53 PM

(09/20/16) BREAUX BRIDGE, La. – LSU AgCenter specialists provided valuable information to pecan growers on how to maintain their trees at a field day on Sept. 16.

“We wanted to give our agents more training on pecan production and to also bring the members of the Pecan Growers Association in to receive this information,” said AgCenter agent Stuart Gauthier.

Most of the pecan production in Louisiana is located in the northern part of the state, with more small and backyard growers in the south, he said.

“As county agents, we spend a lot of time identifying problems for these small growers, but it’s really not practical or cost-effective for these growers to spray on a regular basis for some of these problems,” Gauthier said.

AgCenter soil specialist J Stevens explained pecan fertility issues and the importance of taking a soil sample before applying nutrients.

“To get the most from your trees, you really need to know what the soil needs,” Stevens said. “What you want is a representative sample of soil from your grove so you’re not adding unnecessary nutrients.”

Stevens reminded the growers that a large amount of the nutrients taken up by the tree is stored in the shuck and is therefore left in the orchard.

AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry discussed pecan marketing and explained how exports to China have caused prices to increase in recent years.

“On average, we have about 24,000 acres of pecan production in the state, with average production of about 400 pounds per acre, accounting for a gross farm value of about $14 million per year,” Guidry said.

Exports of pecans are significant, with nearly one-third of U.S. production being exported, he said.

AgCenter pecan specialist Randy Sanderlin gave an overview of diseases and other problemsthe growers should be on the lookout for.

“The lists of things that can cause the death of a tree is long, but some sure causes are a high water table with poor drainage and stress,” Sanderlin said.

Some signs of stress in pecan trees are moss growing on the trees, root disease and root stock incompatibility, he said.

Hillary Langois, a local grafting expert, provided tips on how to protect trees from certain diseases.

“One thing I’ve started doing is spraying exterior latex paint in areas where disease is able to enter the trees at the pruning point,” he said.

AgCenter entomologist Dennis Ring gave an overview of the different pests that pecan growers encounter such as stinkbugs and ways to control them.

AgCenter weed specialist Ron Strahan reminded the growers that it’s a bad idea to put all your eggs in one basket when applying herbicides.

“I think too many producers have relied on Roundup for so long that weeds are becoming resistant to it,” Strahan said. “There are a number of pre-emergent herbicides on the market that can control weeds without the resistance problems. They just tend to have different modes of action.”

Trey Decker, Louisiana Pecan Growers Association vice president for education said the organization represents growers as small as three acres up to some with 600 acres of trees.

“We hold three events per year in cooperation with the AgCenter scientists to keep our growers up on the latest information in the industry,” Decker said. “Those events include the Tri-State Pecan Convention with Arkansas and Mississippi, a fall field day and a spring field day.”

Gauthier said the plan is to continue these meetings to keep growers and agents informed on pecan production.

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LSU AgCenter soil specialist J Stevens explains pecan fertility and the importance of taking a soil sample before applying nutrients at a pecan field day in Breaux Bridge on Sept. 16. (Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter)

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LSU AgCenter entomologist Dennis Ring describes insect damage at a pecan field day in Breaux Bridge on Sept. 16. (Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter)

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Trey Decker, vice president for education of the Louisiana Pecan Growers Association, shows various pieces of equipment to producers at a pecan field day in Breaux Bridge on Sept. 16. (Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter)

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