Early-season conditions of Bill Halsell’s pecan orchards in New Mexico are looking promising.
Halsell Farms, Inc., near Rincon, N.M., includes 500 acres of producing trees and another 150 acres of trees planted two years ago.
Flowers began opening on time in mid-April and bloom is winding down now.
“The trees look good right now and are off to a very good start,” says the long-time pecan grower.
This year’s crop follows a surprisingly good 2012 crop. Last year was an off-year for most of his alternate bearing orchards, divided among three separate farms and all located within about eight miles of each other.
“We had a very good crop and quality of nuts was excellent, better than expected,” Halsell says.
His main concern this season is the impact of the continuing drought on availability of surface water for irrigating his trees. His full annual allocation of water from the Elephant Butte Irrigation District is 3 acre-feet. This year he expects to receive less than 20 percent of that amount (6 inches). He’ll be pumping groundwater to meet the rest of his crop’s water needs. Before the end of April, he had completed the second of the projected 13 flood irrigations he normally makes each season.
“We ameliorate the high salinity levels of our soils the best we can,” Halsell says. “Even though it’s not perfect, the main way we do that is by putting on a lot of water to leach out the salts.”
He augments this with high-sulfur fertilizer.
Halsell spreads the sales of his crop throughout the marketing year, selling pecans at various times based on market conditions. Prices for the 2012 crop are down significantly from those of the previous crop. “Prices have probably leveled out and are adequate,” he says.
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