American pecan growers across the southern US have begun to shift their focus from the orchard floor into the tree canopies as pecan trees are now leafing out.
This year’s American pecan crop will soon be entering the early stages of pollination and pistol receptivity, where the female flower will hopefully be pollinated by the male catkin that is easily recognizable by its long dangling bright green cluster full of pollen particles. The female flower is a little harder to recognize but can be easily found upon closer look.
Pollination in pecan orchards is very important and will produce significantly less pecans if not properly managed. This is usually taken care of during orchard planning before the orchard is planted and is considered when laying out the orchard with adequate pollinators spaced properly throughout the orchard.
Pecan trees are quite demanding when it comes to pollination. While the trees do a good job of pollinating with wind, the pistol receptivity of a female flower may only last for a few days, and if the correct pollinator is not in pollen shed and nearby the pollination or lack thereof, will have major consequences on the crop for that year.
With the major storms that came through the southeast in the past couple years, some growers have lost crucial pollinators for the remaining trees and have had to replant with pollinating varieties that fit the pistol receptivity of that orchard.
We are still roughly a week away from initial pistol receptivity and about 2 weeks from most varieties entering pollination receptivity or shed, growers are already in the orchards scouting the current foliage looking for the ever present pecan scab, as well as bud moths in young trees. Management of pecans and pecan orchards is a year round job. As we finish up with irrigation repair and installations, and hopefully already have all our new trees in the ground, we now turn our attention to the canopies of the trees where most growers will spend the large majority of their time for the rest of the season.
Floor management of course is highly important but for now across the southern US we will be looking upward monitoring the foliage and very soon, the nut production.
For more resources on pecans and managing pecan orchards be sure to check out your local extension or universities website for information about pecan orchard management. In our area the University of Georgia has a great site that is updated regularly. Moving west across the US Alabama, Louisiana, The Nobel Foundation, Texas A & M, New Mexico State University, and the USDA pecan research station, among others and all offer great information on pecan management relevant to their area.