Bud break got into full swing in Jay Glover’s 280 acres of pecans during the first weekend of April. That’s about a week earlier than usual.

“A few days later, the trees had a good green sheen to them,” says Glover, who farms near Tularosa, N.M.

Last December he finished harvesting his second largest crop after more than four decades of growing pecans. But the weather had him holding his breath several times earlier in the season.

“The crop might even have been bigger, but we had some winds in September and a hail storm in May that were scary,” he says.

Spring winds are nothing new in his area, Glover notes. Last year, in fact, they blew longer than usual. Although windy weather is much less common later in the season, this past September was the second one in a row when strong winds blew through trees loaded with nuts very susceptible to being blown loose. “We had 35- to 40-mph winds one day in early September,” he says. “But, because we ended up with such a large crop, the losses weren’t all that noticeable.”

That’s in contrast to September 2011, when two wind storms in September and two more in October blew an estimated 150 pounds of nuts per acre off the trees.

The hail that fell on about a third of his trees last May also was unusual for that time of year. But, the orchards were spared significant damage by the loose structure of the hail stones.

 

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“The hail stones were soft enough that they smashed to piece when they hit the trees,” he says.

Glover’s orchards produced, on average, about 2,400 pounds of nuts per acre in 2012. That’s 20 percent more than the previous crop.

The quality of his 2012 crop also held up well, with No. 1 grading 56 percent to 57 percent and a low percentage of off-grades. Unlike some growers, he doesn’t thin the nuts on his trees. “I can’t bring myself to shake the trees in the middle of summer,” he says. “Pruning and hedging eliminates the need for that.”

Glover’s field work this past winter included deep irrigation with his solid-set sprinklers as part a program he started 15 years ago to leach out salts. He’ll do two more of these leachings this season, one this summer and another in the fall. This has improved both nut yields and quality, he reports. Deep soil ripping the past three years also has helped the salts leach out of the root zone more easily.

Glover will make his first foliar zinc application this month. He’ll begin his nitrogen fertilization in April, too. By the middle of June, he’ll have run about half the nitrogen his trees need for the year through the sprinklers in a total of three applications. After that he’ll put on the rest by applying some with each irrigation for the remainder of the season.

This report is from Tree Nut Farm Press, a twice-monthly electronic newsletter published by Western Farm Press during the growing season. This edition was sponsored by Valent USA.  If would like to receive Tree Nut Farm Press go to the Western Farm Press home page (westernfarmpress.com) and sign up for it and other Farm Press electronic newsletters.

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