Aiming for high yields - with minimal variation between seasons - and superior quality nuts ensures maximum profitability.
Tree density, grove orientation and spacing are critical to ensure the crop makes the most of environmental conditions. Good drainage and the absence of compacted layers within the soil are essential for good rooting.
Thorough soil preparation including liming is critical prior to planting. It is important to build a strong healthy tree that reaches full production as soon as possible. Pruning is also essential to maximize light interception and to ensure a strong crop load that doesn’t over-burden the tree.
The use of fungicides and insecticides along with appropriate integrated pest management (IPM) will ensure high yields and minimise risks of aflatoxins in the nut post-harvest. Harvest management that minimizes contamination with dust or other foreign matter will also improve crop quality.
Most required nutrients have specific roles to play in improving nut yield:
- Nitrogen is important to build the tree canopy and encourage vegetative growth leading to improved bud formation and higher yields and higher nut protein contents.
- Phosphorus is particularly important for root development, flower initiation and energy transport within the tree.
- Potassium, balanced alongside nitrogen, also boosts growth – including better water utilization. It is particularly important and needed in large quantities for nut-fill and the highest yields.
- Calcium helps build the tree and is particularly important for the development of good quality nuts with less disease.
- Boron is important for flowering and pollination, to ensure a good fruit set.
- Zinc helps to maintain growth processes especially new tissue development.
- Nickel minimizes the incidence of mouse ear in pecans.
Nut quality is also influenced by crop nutrition
- Calcium and potassium help to improve good nut fill and tolerance to disease, reducing moulds and storage rots.
- Nitrogen – in excess – can have a detrimental effect on nut quality.
- Boron reduces water stage fruit split in pecans