What is in this article?:
- Mechanical hedge pruning and topping of commercial pecan trees in the Southwest increase the income potential for producers.
- Pruning and topping help manage pecan tree size and improve orchard light penetration which can increase nut yields on lower branches.
- Hedging during the on-year reduces the amount of nut-bearing wood, fruit load, and is thought to increase on year nut quality; plus increases off-year nut yield and reduces alternate bearing, says James Walworth of the University of Arizona.
The Wichita tree yields rebounded faster from hedging and topping than the Western Schley variety. Wichita inshell yields in the first leaf averaged 45 percent. The second and third leaf were about 80 percent of the fourth-leaf yield.
Western Schley yields increased each year after hedging. First leaf yields were 24 percent, the second leaf at 50 percent, and the third leaf at an 80 percent yield of the fourth leaf.
“The Western Schley variety is less vigorous after hedging and topping; about a year slower compared to the Wichita,” Walworth said.
Based on the 2009-2010 crop years, the kernel percentage for both varieties was highest in the first leaf and then decreased over time.
The Wichita began kernel decline in the second leaf; in contrast with Western Schley which started decline at the third and fourth year. The overall decline was greater in Wichita (63.2 - 59.9 percent) than Western Schley (57.6 - 55.7 percent).
Nut size (weight)
The Wichita nut size declined in the second leaf after hedging. The Western Schley size declined in the third and fourth leaf. The Wichita nut size declined faster than the Western Schley.