The cultural practices utilized by the Arizona pecan industry includes different factors that take considerable attention prior to an orchard installation and establishment. There are many factors to consider. Some include pecan tree spacing, soil improvement, cover crops, weed management/orchard floor strategy, cultivars, frost management, changing climatic considerations, pruning strategies, irrigation design, orchard planting design, among others.
Here in the Southwest, we are known for using drip irrigation to get young trees established, then micro-jet irrigation well into the pecan trees mature, fruit-bearing years. Flood irrigation is becoming more and more uncommon as progressive water conservation practices at the forefront of research and irrigation technologies come to knowledge. We also take considerable time in the orchard design process. Many factors are given insight and thought in choosing the right tree to tolerate the dry and hot climate to grow the optimal desired end product. One can say that this is the legacy of Arizona Pecan Growing culture. A new cultural practice gaining popularity is analyzing your soil and improving its health 2 years prior to planting. This not only allows time to improve the organic content and manage any drainage issues, but it also allows time to discover soil pathogens in the proposed orchard plot that may prove to be problematic.
Western Pecan Growers Association Conference
Analyzing your soil can reveal many things and is one of the most beneficial elements available prior to an orchard installation that can ultimately protect the investment. A soil analysis will tell you the type of soil that you have (texture and structure), the salinity, surplus or lack of nutrients that can affect pecan development. Knowing about your soil type and condition can also help you to determine the types of nutrients to apply, the quantity, and what chemicals are better suited for your soil type. Another benefit of soil analysis is that you can better calculate how much water your orchard will need and the frequency of irrigation events. Resources on Soil and Leaf Analysis can be found under Nutrition and Soil.
(soil, water, plant, fertilizer)
(soil for pollution)
( metal & inorganic analysis on drinking water, wastewater, soils/solids, hazardous waste)
(water for bacteria)
(water [including arsenic], plant, feeds)
(soil, plant, water, manure/compost, plant tissue, fertilizer)
(water, indoor air)
(soil, plant, water, fertilizer, compost/mulch)
(water analysis – focus)
(Environmental, air, soil)
( Environmental: radionuclide testing for drinking water & environmental)
(soil, plant analysis, fertilizer)
(air, clean air, drinking water, waste water, industrial
hygiene, solid & hazardous waste)
(Soil, Water, and Forage Testing (soil, water, plant)
( Environmental: water [including arsenic])
United Farm Service, Inc.
(water, soil, total plant nutrients, petiole samples)
(soil engineering, water, air, asbestos)
For most farmers in the Southeastern parts of Arizona micro-jet irrigation is not a new concept. However, there are still a couple of farms that rely on flood irrigation as the expenditure to transfer to a new micro-sprinkler system is costly and takes time. The benefits to micro-irrigation are that it uses less water and allows you to inject your nutrients and other chemicals directly through your system saving time and money. Even though the most optimal system would be to deliver water and nutrients at the root zone depth where most uptake occurs (30-36 inch depth), some farmers have found that laying your irrigation lines above ground is much more convenient for maintenance than buried systems.
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There are many improved cultivars of pecan trees with varying characteristics that to some producers are strengths and to some others are weaknesses. Here in the Arizona high desert and most Southwestern pecan production we tend to plant the 'Apache', 'Burkett', 'Choctaw', 'Cheyenne', 'Mohawk', 'Sioux', 'Wichita', 'Western Schley' and 'Waco' cultivars because they have an improved genetic makeup that performs optimally in our desert conditions or has end product pecan nut characteristics the end buyer and consumer prefers. Before deciding on a cultivar you should ask yourself several questions. What is the desired nut for your end user and buyer? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the end product (i.e., kernel percentage versus shell thickness)? Is it an early ripening versus late ripening cultivar? What cultivar flowers later in the season to avoid frost? Which cultivars are more tolerant to disease or salinity stress? Does your micro-climate have enough growing days to support the length of the growing development requirements?
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L.E. Cooke Co Nursery
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Visalia, CA 93292
The key to managing weeds is diversification, and in doing so you lower the risk of a weed species adapting to a specific technique, which will eventually happen if you use one control technique over time. For instance there are many cases where weeds have developed a tolerance to herbicides. When considering a long-term integrated weed management plan for a particular area, one should consider all viable weed management control techniques along with any possible tools that can help you make the job easier. Most integrated weed management plans, aim at an expensive means and the effective control of the weeds, however a good strategy also aims at lower in damaging risks to the native ecosystem. The goal of long-term integrated weed management should reduce weeds while reducing the seed stocks in the soil. A great strategy will achieve these goals without degrading the desirable qualities of the land, it will exercise good stewardship and preserve the native ecology or agricultural crops. If you need help with weed management please contact your Crop Consultant, Weed Science Specialist, or Horticulture extension officer.
University of Arizona Extensions