Pecans across the southern US from the east coast to the west coast are in the middle of the growing season and will soon enter the crucial nut fill stage. According to the UGA pecan team, nut fill in the southeast begins around August 15 and continues until the first weeks in October. Of course each year is slightly different, and each variety is slightly different, but this is a good guide to use in the orchard.
The sizing of the pecans is important to the overall weight and quality of pecans produced in the orchard. In the southeast rains have been regular lately keeping scab pressure on the trees leaves and nuts, forcing growers to move to a tighter application schedule for scab mitigation.
Most growers have done a good job staying ahead of the scab and have been able to keep the trees clean. The rains have been somewhat helpful with the water supply for the trees, but have kept the scab pressure higher also.
The most critical time for the nut fill stage and resulting water demands will be in early September, however if water is not kept on the trees until that point the trees will begin to shed pecans due to lack of water resources. Mature pecan trees can require up to 350 gallons of water per day during the nut fill stage. This can be supplemented by the natural rainfall here in the southeastern US.
Many growers have switched less efficient irrigation systems to more efficient drip or microjet irrigation systems with less water waste and less evaporation, by targeting the water output directly at the tree’s root system in the herbicide strip. This allows for much better water efficiency in the orchard and reduces competition for the available water.
Growers will continue to monitor the crop and the last of the mid summer drop. With the kernel fill stage just around the corner, growers will soon begin to tighten up irrigation schedules making sure the trees and pecans have enough water to fill out the pecans for this year’s harvest.