Monday, August 29, 2011

Double-row intercrop system: Pecans and soybeans.

     Back in June, I posted a photo of planting soybeans in our pecan intercrop study area.Today, the beans look good with plants averaging 30 inches tall (photo at right). However, just like area farmers, our soybean crop has struggled with drought all summer long. Fortunately, we had 4 inches of rain during the second week of August, giving the bean crop a needed boost. Plants grew nearly 2 feet taller in the week following the rain.
     Now, another dome of high pressure has settled over SE Kansas and we are back to hot dry conditions. Our bean crop looks good from the road, but on closer inspection you'll find very few pods setting on the plants. Poor pod set is directly related to the hot, dry weather. Needless to say, farming has been a challenge in 2011!
      Despite this year's drought, I still believe that our double-row, intercrop system has great potential for making a new pecan planting financially sustainable during the years of orchard establishment. The grass alleyway between each double row of trees is the unique feature of  this system. The alleyway allows for easy access to the trees for maintenance operations such as grafting, summer pruning and pest control; all without trampling the adjacent agronomic crop..  For those planning a new orchard, here's the planting plan for the double row system (below).