Fueling the flame for new orchard start-ups is the growing demand for pecans, both domestically and internationally.

“There is a steady market for pecans domestically, but Texas had partnered with other pecan growing states in an effort to promote pecans in places like China, India and Germany, and so far those efforts have paid off,” Nesbitt reports.

In fact, increased demand and last year’s smaller yields forced wholesale prices up considerably, which was good news for growers who were faced with a smaller harvest. By the time pecan harvest begins in September each year, Nesbitt says much of the crop has already been sold, and the global market is demanding a larger share every year.

“And with the focus on nutrition and health, consumers are learning just how good pecans are and the benefits they provide in the average diet. This is adding to their popularity domestically,” he said.

Nesbitt also points to renewed interest in pecan production in Texas as an indication of pecan’s value as an agriculture crop. Orchards that have been abandoned in the past are garnering the interest of out-of-state investors and many farmers who have left orchards to fend for themselves are now revitalizing their operations.

“As nut demand continues to increase, so will the interest in pecan production.”

For those considering pecan production, whether as an alternate crop on the farm or as a new start up, Nesbitt says a husband/wife team could generate a reasonable second income on as few as 10 to 20 acres, but says commercial operations should start with 80 acres or more.

“Farm equipment related to pecan production is less expensive than most types of farm equipment, but small-acre orchards would take considerably longer to overcome initial equipment investment. For really small, family operations, however, harvesting can be done by hand. But growing pecans for profit requires the right equipment as well as the right land,” Nesbitt warns.

Once an orchard is developed and matures, growers can expect about 1,000 pounds of nuts per acre from 20 to 40 trees. But make certain ample water is available to sustain the orchard. Nesbitt recommends pumps that can provide 10 gallons of water per minute for each acre of trees.A mature pecan tree requires about twoinches of water per week.