Monday, December 3, 2012

Native Yield 2012

     Lately, I've been spending a lot of time in the cab of this tractor enjoying the sound of nuts hitting the roof as I shake our native trees (photo at right). Ever since 1981, we've been collecting yield data from the same 6 one-half-acre plots of native pecans in order to provide baseline data for economic projections.
     In spite of the 2012 drought, our native plots produced the second highest yield on record. We averaged 1936 lbs./acre this year. Our highest recorded yield was 2145 lbs./acre produced in 1997. If  the summer of 2012 had provided plentiful rainfall and the larger average nut size that comes with adequate moisture, 2012 might have set a new record.
    The big crop this year was set up by the combination of 2 major weather events, both occuring in 2007. The Easter freeze of 2007 destroyed potential nut production by freezing emerging flower buds. During the fall of 2007 we harvest only 490 lbs./acre. This freeze set in motion an alternate bearing pattern that has continued since that time. We currently expect larger crops in even numbered years.
    Later, during December of 2007 we had an ice storm that ripped 50% of the branches from our trees. The removal of so much of the tree's canopy ended up reducing what should have been a big crop in 2008 by more than half.  Since that time our trees have been growing back new limbs and refilling their canopies. The 2012 season marks the first time since 2006 that our native trees have returned to their full nut producing potential. The last ten years of native pecan production from our plots is shown below.