Monday, November 25, 2013

How long does it take until pecan trees bear a commercial crop?

    The trees in our double-row intercrop block are starting to produce a lot of nuts (photo above). Earlier this fall we even planted a permanent ground cover in the space formerly dedicated to field crops.  Now, with the leaves off the trees, you can see why we needed to plant a ground cover to facilitate harvest--the trees are loaded with nuts.
    A lot of folks interested in establishing a new pecan orchard wonder how long it will take until the pecan trees start to bear nuts. This double-row orchard provides a good example. The orchard was established with contianer-grown trees. One-year-old 'Colby' seedlings were transplanted into the field during the fall of 2002.  The cultivars Lakota, Faith, and Gardner were grafted onto these rootstock trees during the grafting seasons of 2005-2007. The young trees started to set a few nuts by 2009. By  2012 we needed to use a trunk shaker to harvest our first machine-harvestable crop (ie. a crop big enough to justify the expense of running the equipment). The 2013 crop is even bigger and this year we will start collecting meaningful yield data.
    Here's the bottom line. The trees pictured above were started from seed in the nursery during the Spring of 2002. By the Fall of 2013, eleven years later, the trees have grown large enough to bear their first commercial crop.