I recently returned from both the Oklahoma and Texas Pecan Growers annual conventions. Both conventions offer growers educational opportunities, trade shows and a chance to network with some of the top producers in the industry. These conventions are well worth attending. Attendees learn about new pecan research and new technology or management practices that are being recommended. Selected topics are tailored to benefit a wide range of growers. Presentations span the interests from beginning producers through the leading growers. Interaction with fellow growers is perhaps the greatest opportunity gained from the conventions.
At the Oklahoma conference, management topics ranged from early management tips for a successful orchard to causes of pecan shucks' failure to open. There were also talks about carbon sequestration and use of legumes in pecan orchards. Presented research included pecan scab fungicide control, response of pecans to foliar applied nickel and copper, and many other relevant topics. The conference concluded with an orchard tour of the Staggs orchard south of Purcell. Equipment was demonstrated during the tour and management practices of the orchard were discussed.
The Texas convention started with a mini-course that focused on management and marketing of pecan orchards. Following the short course, topics included, but were not limited to, orchard management, feral hog and fire ant management, and pecan exports to China. There were also talks about salmonella concerns in pecans and an excellent talk on retail marketing for large-scale businesses down to very small operations without stores.
Dr. Thompson from the ARS-USDA breeding station discussed the two new varieties that were released this year. Mandan is the 27th pecan variety released by USDA. It is being released because of its high nut quality, high yield potential, early nut maturity and excellent scab disease resistance. Mandan has 53 nuts/lb, with 62 percent kernel. It is protandrous, with early to midseason pollen shed and midseason to late pistil receptivity (similar to Pawnee). Apalachee is the 28th variety released by USDA. It is being released because of its high nut quality, high yield potential and excellent scab disease resistance. Apalachee averaged 1,600 lbs/acre in a 10-year test in Georgia with 84 nuts/lb and 54 percent kernel. Apalachee is protandrous, with early to midseason pollen shed and midseason to late receptivity.
The Texas convention ended with the all-important crop estimates. (Figure 1) shows estimated production for the 2009 pecan crop year. During this presentation, prices were estimated to be average to higher because of the low carryover and large exports to China.
I highly recommend that anyone interested in pecans attend one or both of these conventions in the future. There is so much useful information that can be gained by attending these meetings. The Oklahoma convention will be held in Ardmore on June 20-22, 2010, and the Texas convention will be in San Marcos on July 11-14, 2010. Additional information may be found at the Web sites of the Oklahoma Pecan Growers Association (www.hortla.okstate.edu/pecan/opga) and the Texas Pecan Growers Association (www.tpga.org) a couple of months prior to the meetings.