Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pecan Orchard

Pecan trees ! I love them. The nuts are my favorite. One of my best memories growing up is collecting the nuts on crisp fall days. I even admire the airy shape of the trees. I notice every one we pass by on the road. In South Carolina, the pecan trees I had planted grew like weeds. But, I've had such poor results here in Arkansas. I've had to plant the orchard (24 trees) 3 different times, 4 times in some spots. Deer killed one orchard by nibbling and another batch by scraping their horns. After I caged each tree to protect them from deer, twig girdlers (insects) cut off all the new growth year after year. I finally controlled these pests with chemicals.

Last winter my best tree was cut down by … mice. No kidding! They gnawed it off at ground level. I did have one tree thriving by the house. It bore the biggest nuts that I've ever seen. A visitor hit it with a car and killed it down below the graft union. It's growing again from the non-commercial rootstock and will surely give the squirrels tiny wild nuts. At least it's a pecan tree.

Currently most of the commercial trees are infested with scab disease severe enough to kill nearly all of the new growth. I haven't been able to buy the highly potent chemicals without a commercial license. Varieties of pecan trees ? Mostly I have the rootstocks where Mahan, Stuart, Desirable, Cape Fear, Pawnee, and Choctaw used to grow. A few scab crippled originals are struggling along. At one point they were bearing a handful of nuts. Maybe I should have noticed that almost no pecan trees are growing in our area. I’m now introducing hazelnuts. So far, they are doing fine.

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