Monday, January 8, 2018

Yields from a young pecan orchard

Harvesting a young orchard
   Frequent questions new pecan growers have usually revolve around questions of when and how much young pecan trees start to bear nut crops. Back in 2002 we planted one-year-old Colby pecan seedlings to start a new block of trees. Most of these trees were grafted in 2005, with every tree in the planting successfully grafted by 2007. We grafted three cultivars; Faith, Gardner and Lakota. The trees produced a handful of nuts by 2010 and as the trees grew larger nut production steadily increased.
   By harvest time 2017, the trees in this orchard averaged over 7 inches in diameter and were producing a full crop of nuts. Lets take a look at this year's yield data.

    This field of young trees contained 32 trees of each cultivar. We harvested each cultivar separately and then calculated yield per tree. In the chart at right, I list the average yield per tree and present a measure of the variation in yield observed between trees grafted to the same cultivar (mean yield +/- standard deviation).
 Twelve to fourteen pounds of pecans per tree doesn't sound like a lot of pecans but, when added up on a per acre basis, the income generated by these young trees is significant.
   The trees in this orchard were planted at a density of 27 trees per acre. This means that Gardner produced 327 lbs/acre, Faith produced 378 lbs/acre, and Lakota 359 lbs/acre. I sold these nuts for $3.00 per pound which translated to a gross return that ranged from $981 to $1134 per acre depending on cultivar. That's not bad for a 15-year-old pecan orchard.