Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Our pecan seeds are up!

   Last fall we acquired an old Truax tree seed planter in need of repair and re-engineering. This simple machine reminds me of a larger version of a single row corn planter but capable of handling much larger seeds such pecan. We worked on a redesign of the nut metering system and gave the planter a test run last fall (photo at right).
   The planter works best in a well prepared seed bed as shown at right. To make sure we planted the nuts in a strait row, we stretched a string across the field and planted following the string with the front right tractor tire.
   To establish this planting, we harvested early-ripening Peruque nuts, cleaned the seeds, then planted in late October. After planting the pecan seed, we planted a cover crop of winter wheat between the tree rows to hold the soil during the winter and following spring.

    This week, a well defined row of pecan seedlings have popped out of the ground (photo at left). Prior to pecan seedling emergence and before the wheat started to joint, we marked the tree row with a string and sprayed a mixture of roundup and pendimethalin (pre-emergence herbicide) over the top to suppress weeds.
    We plan on leaving the wheat in place throughout the spring flooding season to hold the soil.  Over the summer, we'll spot treat weeds in the tree row with herbicides and clean till the area between rows.
    In using the tree seed planter last fall, we discovered that the furrow closing system currently on the machine does not work in our heavy textured soils. Soil becomes compacted around the shoe of the planter and seeds back up in the drop tube. To plant last year, we removed this ineffective furrow closing system and planted the seed without it. Look at the photo at the top of this post and note that the planter left a V-shaped trench in the soil. This summer we'll be installing two discs on the machine to close this furrow.
    Once we get all the bugs worked out on the planter, we will be leasing the planter to area growers interested in direct seedling new pecan orchards.