With the holiday season approaching, the mere mention of pecan truffles brings thoughts of decadent chocolate caramel candies meant to share with someone special. While that does sound good, it’s not quite what this article is about. The kind of truffle I am talking about is typically searched out by specially trained dogs or pigs rooting around in the soil where tree roots grow. So I guess for this to all make sense, we need to start with: What exactly is a truffle, and what is its relationship with a pecan tree?
A common question asked by homeowners is “Can I plant just one pecan tree in my yard or pasture?” To sufficiently answer this question, we must first discuss the dichogamy of a pecan tree and how it affects pollination.
Pecan phylloxera is an insect that can cause significant damage if ignored or treated incorrectly in pecan orchards. Phylloxera can attack shoots, leaves and fruit of pecan trees. Due to the life cycle of phylloxera, timing is very important to treating the infestation. Once you see galls, it is already too late to stop the infestation.
Pollination in the pecan orchard is critical to both the yield and quality of nuts. Pecan trees are cross-pollinated (allogamous) and although self-pollination is possible, the result is largely unsuccessful. Pecan trees are wind-pollinated; therefore, pollinators (i.e., bees) are not required to complete pollination. Cross-pollinated pecans are usually larger and higher quality than self-pollinated pecans. Self-pollination can reduce nut quality and greatly reduce crop yield by as much as 75 percent.
With the return of hot, dry weather to the Southern Great Plains, pecan orchard managers and fruit and vegetable growers are trusting their drip irrigation systems to deliver the quantity and quality of water needed to sustain production throughout the summer.
The number of acres of irrigated improved pecan orchards has been increasing throughout the Southern Great Plains. These orchards offer diversification from other typical agricultural activities in the region, and producers have shown a growing interest in pecan information. Landowners have posed many questions to Noble Research Institute researchers and consultants about the profitability of irrigated improved pecans. To answer some of these questions, a study was conducted to determine if irrigated improved pecan orchards are more or less profitable than alternative production systems commonly implemented by regional producers with access to irrigation.