Deep wells keep pecan grower’s crop progressing

Deep wells keep pecan grower’s crop progressing

Proper irrigation has minimized heat stress on Buddy Achen's New Mexico pecan trees.

Except for a series of record-breaking temperatures in June, this has been a fairly typical growing season for New Mexico pecan grower Buddy Achen.

His Triple A Farms includes 700 acres of pecan orchards, mostly Western Schley with some Wichita and Bradley pollinator varieties. Most of that acreage is in the Mesilla Valley near Las Cruces, N.M. The remaining blocks are farther north near Hatch in the Rincon Valley.

Achen, a director of the Western Pecan Growers Association, has been growing pecans commercially for more than 20 years.

This season is an on-year for his alternate bearing pecans.

“The nuts are sizing real well, and the trees look good,” Achen says. “I’m pretty satisfied with how the crop is coming along. Production appears to be about average for an on-year.”

The 1.75 inches of rain that has fallen since early July will certainly help his crop prospects.  “That rain has spruced up the trees a little,” he adds.

The wet weather followed the most days ever in June with highs of 100 degrees or more.

Proper irrigation minimized any heat stress on the trees, Achen notes.

His pecans had advanced to the water stage by early August. Also, the trees were beginning to shed some of their crop load. This August drop, when the trees lose nuts that were not fertilized properly or otherwise failed to develop normally, usually lasts two or three weeks. After that, Achen will begin to get a better idea of the size of the crop.

He began seeing pecan nut casebearer around Memorial Day. Enough showed up to warrant a pesticide application. No control was needed for the second generation, which appeared around July 4. Typically, the third generation emerges around Labor Day. He’ll treat them, as needed.

Normally, the early summer infestation of yellow aphid doesn’t require treatment. That was the case this year, too. However, Achen will take action to control black aphids should they prove a problem in September and October, as they sometimes do.

The Southwest, remains in a persistent drought. Deliveries of water from what remains in the Elephant Butte Irrigation District’s reservoirs along the Rio Grande were shut off earlier this summer. That was after growers received 3.5 inches of water, enough to flood irrigate fields one time.

Last year they received six acre-inches of water for the entire season in June. That beat the 2011 season when drought forced the district to limit total deliveries to just four inches. So far, the water table and his 400- to 500-foot deep wells have been meeting the water needs of trees. “Groundwater supplies are definitely a concern,” Achen says.


This report is from Tree Nut Farm Press, a twice-monthly electronic newsletter published by Western Farm Press during the growing season. If you would like to receive Tree Nut Farm Press, see here for sign-up.


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