Pecan producers in the North American pecan industry, which produces more than 90% of the world’s pecans, are monitoring this year’s crop very closely as pecans are going through the crucial “nut fill” stage of the annual life cycle.
Water demands for the pecan tree are very important right now as receiving adequate water supply is crucial during this time of year. Pecans began to size around may and have now entered the stage where the kernels of the pecan will develop to form the final product. If the tree’s are stressed and/or don’t receive enough water, kernel development can be poor and the tree will begin to shed more pecans in order to reserve energy to survive through the perceived drought.
Last month, many growers across the south saw tree’s shed nuts in what is commonly referred to as the “June drop”, this actually happens twice a year on average with late July and early August also seeing some varieties shed nuts.
This is not necessarily an unwanted action from the tree. Many of us will go through and shake off even more nuts on certain varieties that may tend to overproduce during “on years”. Too many nuts on a tree can leave the entire crop underdeveloped, and come harvest time the nuts that are remaining can sometimes have poorly developed kernels and bring far less money at auction.
During “on years” on our Shoshoni crop we will shake off, what seems like a large portion of the green pecans, in order to allow the remaining crop fill out and produce high quality pecans. If we don’t take this action of thinning the crop load, the crop will largely be of poor quality with poor kernel development, and the orchard yield will be off by as much half.
Dr. Wells from the University of Georgia has produced a helpful irrigation guide for producers looking for a little more information about irrigation scheduling and water demand of pecan trees throughout the season.
As you can see, water demand for pecans increases during the summer months peaking during August and September. As the crop continues to fill out, growers will continue to monitor the crop load and water and thin accordingly.
In the eastern region, growers have reported a well set crop with this year expected to be a bumper crop. Western growers have dealt with late freezes, and early high temps during pollination, but also are reporting a decent crop in the desert. Middle Texas and Oklahoma and Arkansas have reported a very light native crop with some growers saying they don’t think they will harvest certain native orchards this year. But time will tell as we get closer to harvest season.