Archive for the 'Pecans' Category

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Reflections in a Pecan Wood

Research has indicated the best way to irrigate pecan trees is flood irrigation. This may appear to be an inefficient use of water, but this method leads to deep irrigation that encourages the tree roots to grow deeply. The water available to the deep roots reduces the need for surface irrigation.

In Doña Ana County we have over 18,000 acres of pecan orchards. So this time of the year the back roads of the Mesilla Valley stretch through thousands of pecan fields being irrigated.

The symmetrical planting of the trees creates endlessly fascinating views. But when you add the spectacular effects of sunlight glistening through the leaves and branches, and the reflections in the waters below, you have some of most remarkable visual delights ever seen.

These photos were taken today of a pecan field being flood irrigated. Click on each image for a larger view. It’s almost impossible to determine where reality ends and reflection begins.



Other pecan posts:

Pecans — The Cadillac of Nuts
18,000+ Acres
Pecan Harvesting
Pecan Pruning

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Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

Pecan Pruning

After the , pecan growers have one last, big task — pruning the trees.

Pecan trees are pruned for several reasons. The main reason is to keep the trees smaller, which makes harvesting and tree care easier. But pruning also helps increase or maintain yields and improve nut quality.

Big trees are pruned using a rideable, motorized arm:

The operator can drive through the orchard and raise or lower the arm as needed.

Pruning requires skill. Trees must be cut in the right way, dead limbs recognized and taken out, and narrow crotches removed.


The prunings must be cleared so that they don’t interfere with the care of the trees or serve as a host for disease or insects.

The prunings are first stacked, then hauled off and burnt. No viable economic use for pecan prunings has been found, so burning is currently considered the best disposal option.

Until they began to leaf out and grow, pruned trees look buzz-cut.

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Monday, December 18th, 2006

No Trespassing

As you drive the backroads around Mesilla, through the 18,000+ acres of pecans in the county, you will see these little signs every where:

Why such concern about trees? They are not going to be damaged by people walking under them.

Here’s the reason:

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Monday, December 4th, 2006

Pecan Harvesting

The 2006 pecan harvest is almost finished.

The trees are ready for harvest when most of the protective shucks have split. You can see the open shucks and pecans here:

Pecan trees alternate between high yield and low yield years. This year is a low year for this area. Production in a low year can be as little as 1/3 of a high year.

Here is a tree from an orchard with an excellent yield this year, perhaps because the trees are younger and were recently transplanted.

The first step in harvesting is getting the nuts out of the tree. This is done with a shaker:

The trees are shook for about 2 or 3 seconds and you can feel the shaking in the ground 20 or 30 feet away. The going rate to get your trees shook if you don’t own a shaker is $5 a tree.

Sometimes it is necessary to shake several branches of a large tree.

Here you can see pecans falling as the tree shakes.

The shaker shakes out anything that will fall, including shucks, leaves, and twigs. All of this joins the leaves which have already fallen from the tree, so the second step is to use a windrow machine to rake this material into rows.

The last step in harvesting is to use a sweeper to pick up the leaves and debris and pecans and separate the pecans. Here’s a sweeper in action.

The sweeper stores the nuts in a bin and grinds the leaves and debris and returns it to the soil.

Here are what trees look like after harvest.

Doña Ana county produces more pecans than any similarly-sized area in the world.

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Saturday, November 11th, 2006

Pecans Yellowing

The pecans trees are just beginning to yellow. This is later than usual, which will delay the harvest, which usually begins in late October.

The pecans are hard to see unless you look closely.

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Friday, September 29th, 2006

Flood Irrigation

Pecan trees are irrigated by flooding, which is the only practical way to get water to the roots of the trees. Flood irrigation may appear wasteful, but it actually encourages deep root growth, which in turn reduces the amount of irrigation water required by the crop.



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Saturday, September 16th, 2006

18,000+ Acres

There are 18,000+ acres of pecans in this county (Doña Ana).

How many trees is that?

I don’t know, but you can get some idea of the miles and miles of trees from these satellite photos of pecan groves just south of Mesilla.

In a mature grove, trees are spaced about 30 feet apart, resulting in about 48 trees per acre.


The average yield for a pecan grove is about 600 pounds an acre.

This area produces higher than average yields, but most importantly, the quality of pecans grown here is unmatched anywhere else. High quality pecans require cold in the winter and heat in the summer, but not too cold or too hot. The climate here is just right for pecans.

Most growers in this area do not use chemical insecticides to control pests — instead, growers use natural predators like ladybugs and lacewing flies.

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Thursday, August 31st, 2006

Pecans — The Cadillac of Nuts

Pecans are a huge agricultural industry around Mesilla. There are an estimated 18,000 acres of pecans in the county (Doña Ana).

Pecans, because of their wonderful flavor, have been called the Cadillac of nuts.

This is a wonderful time of the year to drive through the pecan groves. The trees are lush green and the patterns made by the sunlight, shadows, and rows of trees are dazzling.


The pecans in this area are irrigated primarily with water from the Rio Grande. As a result, there are many irrigation canals feeding the groves.


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