Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Native pecan yields for 2014

Native pecan plots 2014
    For 34 harvest seasons, we have been recording the yields of native pecan trees growing in 6, one-half acre plots at the Pecan Experiment Field. We just finished cleaning the last of the nuts from these plots and have weighed this year's crop.
    In the photo at right, the scars from the 2007 ice storm are still visible but you can see how well our native trees have grown back over the past 7 years. This year we harvested an average of 1127 lbs/acre from the native plots, down from the previous year's yield of 1640 lbs/acre (see chart below).
   Whenever I look at a plot of pecan yields, I always seem to concentrate on finding reasons for why the tree produce below-average yields in certain years. Nut yield in 2007 was depressed by a extremely late hard freeze on Easter weekend that destroyed many emerging shoots and pistillate flowers. Yield in 2008 was impacted by the loss of roughly 50% of tree canopies from a serious ice storm that occurred in December of 2007. In fact, it took several years for the trees to regrow their canopies and get back to full nut production.
    So what happened in 2014? After two big crops in 2012 and 2013, it seems like our trees decided to take a little break. However, I should point out that 2014's yield at 1127 lbs/acre is only slightly below our 34 year average of 1165 lbs/acre.

    When we harvest pecans, we always run over the field twice. In the table above, the 2014 yields for our six native pecan plots are presented in pounds per acre. These numbers give you some idea of how variable native pecan yields can be and how important a second harvest is for capturing the full value of a grove's nut production. In harvesting pecans, we shake and harvest the entire farm before going back for the second harvest.  This year the second harvest represented about 14% of our total yields.