Pecan growers across the south eastern US begin to monitor the “June Drop” where pecan trees shed nuts in order to fill out the crop and allow the tree to handle the crop load.
The shedding of the pecans happens each year around this time in certain varieties and depending on the variety may shed slightly later. The dropping of the nuts is common in the southeast and depending on the orchard and variety can happen between June, July, and occasionally into August, however nut drops this late into the season can be a result of insufficient water in the orchard and the tree may be shedding what could have been quality nuts.
This year’s drop has already begun and growers will monitor the severity closely. Inadequate pollination is a common cause for the tree to shed nuts, not all of the nuts fertilize properly and the tree will shed nuts that did not fertilize well.
Desirable trees usually tend to shed in early June and will typically go from 4-5 nuts per cluster to 2-3 nuts per cluster, shedding somewhere between 30-60% of the early crop load. This is one of the reasons why the Desirable pecan tree will produce consistently from year to year without big swings in production. Other varieties may not be as self sufficient and require grower intervention in order to produce a quality crop consistently.
On our farm the Shoshoni’s need to be mechanically thinned in the heavy “on” years, otherwise the crop will not fill out well, and the following year the tree will produce very few pecans. With proper mechanical thinning, the tree will produce quality nuts much more consistently.
As we go through the next 30-60 days growers will monitor the drop and we will soon have a better understanding of the crop size for this year’s harvest.