The pecan industry was born in Louisiana, and for decades the LSU AgCenter has supported the state’s growers through research and extension at the Pecan Research Station south of Shreveport.
Pecan sales were first recorded in New Orleans in the late 1700s, and important developments in grafting pecan trees took place in south Louisiana in the 1800s.
For 90 years the Pecan Research Station has served the industry.
“It has served a valuable purpose,” said Patrick Colyer, director of the AgCenter Northwest Region, which includes the Pecan Station. “Our producers got a lot of information from that station.”
The station began as a U.S. Department of Agriculture field research station. It was founded through an act of Congress in 1930 to serve the growing pecan industry in the area. Caddo Parish donated 100 acres of land and some buildings on the property. Researchers planted 17 cultivars of pecan that first year.
USDA researchers at the laboratory made several important discoveries there and studied cultivars that would be widely planted. Scientists there found that zinc is an important nutrient for tree growth and nut production, a finding that AgCenter researchers later called the “single most important cultural improvement for the commercial industry.”
In 1973 the USDA transferred the facility to the LSU AgCenter. LSU already had a long history of pecan research. Horticulturists at the university had been studying the nut-producing trees since the early 1900s.
Studies at the Pecan Station assisted in the development of two Louisiana-bred varieties of pecan trees, Melrose and Moreland. Research at the station also helped develop three USDA varieties, Creek, Houma and Oconee.
In the past 20 years research at the Pecan Station has stalled. Its future was in jeopardy as the property was slated for a possible path of a new interstate highway. With its long-term future in doubt, pecan research, which can take decades because of the slow growth of the trees, slowed. Researchers moved on or retired. Today it serves the public as a demonstration farm.
Kyle Peveto is an assistant communications specialist and associate editor of Louisiana Agriculture.
(This article appears in the fall 2021 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)
Pecan orchard at the LSU AgCenter Pecan Research Station in Shreveport, Louisiana. Photo by Luke Bullock
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture