Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pecans, pecans everywhere
Overabundance of nutty crops may mean trouble later
By Judith K. McGinnis/Times Record NewsAugust 13, 2007
Burdened with bounty, the pecan trees of North Texas are looking more and more like weeping willows.
After years of drought conditions, this summer's regular rains have brought out a bumper crop of pecans on both home landscape trees and in commercial orchards. The abundance, however, is weighing down limbs, sometimes dangerously, and may compromise the overall quality of the fall harvest.
"It's a limb-breaker crop," said Tim Montz, a commercial grower who tends more than 200 acres of pecans in the Charlie-Thornberry area. "We usually make about 2,000 pounds (of pecans) an acre but this year it could make 5,000 pounds an acre."
While at first glance that might sound like a good thing, Montz said there's a price to be paid when trees overproduce. Over-crowded nut clusters grow smaller, lower quality pecans and drain the tree of vitality it will need for the following year's crop.
"We work for consistent production. If the trees make too many pecans this year, they won't bear as many next year," said Montz. "That's no good for us."
This is why for the past two weeks Montz has brought tree shaking equipment, typically used only during fall harvest, into the orchards to shake some of the excess pecans off now while they are in what growers call the "water stage."
Those who tend the trees around their homes in anticipation of a freezer full of high quality pecans each year can improve their crop in somewhat the same way. Threshing branches gently with a long pole, the technique some use to get the last autumn pecans down, can thin the overage.
If branches are hanging low enough to brush against roofs, block access to driveways or sweep across lawns, a pruning pole can be employed to break off large, heavy clusters.
Just be ready to take cover when the leathery, lime green shucks begin to fall.
Whenever possible, wait to prune limbs and branches until pecan trees are dormant in the winter and early spring.

No comments: