Health is of great concern to almost everyone. It may not appear to be such a concern to Americans who eat so many fat-laden fast foods. The news media is filled with articles about obesity as a result of elevated fat intake. Many of our agricultural products have great nutritional characteristics that are included in heart-healthy diets. The basic food groups contain many of the agricultural commodities we grow, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats and dairy products. Because pecans contain an average of 72 percent fat, which is similar to other nuts, many people consider them unhealthy – but recent research has proven quite the contrary.
The differences between growing native and improved pecan varieties are still causing confusion among growers. Native pecan growers often comment, "I'd rather not have any of those improved pecans in my orchard. They just aren't worth anything." On the other side of the controversy, improved pecan growers say, "There is no room for a native pecan tree on my place. They take up room where improved pecans could be grown." In reality, there is a place for both native and improved pecan production, although not necessarily intermingled.
Pecan trees grow well or poorly, depending on the soil type. Soils have quite different water-holding and -releasing capacity, which is important to pecan tree growth and nut production. Pecans require huge volumes of water to produce nuts, so they naturally establish and develop on the deeper soil types, especially where there is a stable water table.
In pecan production, the soil is simply a medium in which the tree grows. It comprises particulates (minerals, organic materials, water, air, and living organisms) whose associative complexity is astounding. These associations are the result of weathering that causes rocks to decompose into the elements that can be used as plant nutrients. Nutrient combinations vary according to the chemical composition of the parent material, and external forces such as wind and water can mix minerals to provide a better distribution of available plant nutrients.
Catastrophic weather has destroyed many pecan trees the last few years, taking out some that were strategically placed. Several orchards were damaged extensively, and many of the trees were either removed or damaged so much that their productive lives were shortened. Most landowners who want to remain in the pecan business need to develop a strategy for replacing trees periodically. In this article, I discuss different approaches to tree establishment.
Crows are a huge threat to pecan production, especially improved pecans. They are very intelligent birds that are difficult to control. Crows are able to communicate with one another while remembering previous situations to avoid. When a crow is shot at and missed, it has been educated or at least warned. On the other hand, if crows are only being harassed with blanks and their buddy did not hit the ground, they quickly realize the noise is harmless. Often, when propane exploders have been used for some time and crows have grown accustomed to them, the exploders should be left on while hunting to offer further distraction and increase the crows' vulnerability.