Sunday, January 29, 2012

Carving out a new native pecan grove

   Every native pecan grove starts out as a forest of river-bottom, hardwood trees that includes pecan in a mix of oak, ash, hackberry, and hickory. With high pecan prices comes increased interest in developing native stands of pecan trees into productive groves. Pictured above are native pecan trees that have just been released from a forest of competing trees. In the background, you can still see some pin oaks (pin oaks hold their brown leaves all winter long) that have yet to be cleared and brush piles waiting to be burned.

   Trees that have just been released from the forest are tall and narrow (photo at left). Over the next few years, these trees will take advantage of increased sunlight and start to fill out their crowns and maybe even produce a few nuts. Note that the trees in this native grove are fairly young (under 16 inches DBH). These smaller native trees will respond to fertilizer and sunlight much faster than mature trees (>36 inch DBH), giving this grove a much greater potential for a rapid increase in nut production.. 
     Clearing a new native grove is a lot of work but it still remains the fastest way for expanding your pecan acres. Over the next few months and years, I'll be watching this native grove for signs of further development. Will a ground cover be planted? Will we see cattle grazing under the trees? How soon will we see a nut crop? Only time will answer these questions.