The orchard is full of worms, and I'm okay with that. Earthworms are an essential component to the health of the soil, particularly in environments where commercial crops are being produced. And there are a lot of earthworms here in the orchard. It's not that we've imported them or bought them to bring them in. It's our sustainable agriculture practices that have fostered the natural population of earthworms.
So how do they benefit the orchard in the first place? It improves the water infiltration through the soil profile, their tunnels and presence in the soil create avenues for the rainwater to get down to the roots so the roots can more readily take up that water and feed the crop.
They contribute to the soil aeration. Now, believe it or not, soil needs air pockets, microscopic pores in the profile that allows the roots to breed. Now with the equipment that we run in the orchard with our shredders and harvesters and other management practices, all that weight creates a soil compaction and it squeezes out the air pours, and the roots begin to suffer. But the presence of earthworms continues to fluff up the soil and create the avenues of air pockets and water down to the roots.
All of these three components contribute to a term that we call soil tilth. Without adequate tilth any crop (pecans included) would suffer as a result. When you think about us managing the top for the crop, we have to pay close attention to the roots - that's the other half of the tree that's essential to pecan production. So if the soil were not healthy, the earthworms wouldn't be here. And without the earthworms, the canopy would suffer and the crop would suffer as well. So we pay close attention to the roots. When the roots are healthy, the canopy is healthy and that produces a healthy crop for you to enjoy in the fall.