March signals the end of winter and the fast approaching Growing Season. Budbreak and new spring growth will be here soon, so now is the time to finish any “off-season” projects and preparations. One of our main projects right now is to make sure our newly planted pecan trees are settled in. We’re watering them manually for now until we get irrigation installed. We’re also using self-composted pecan “trash” as mulch for the young trees to keep weeds from growing near the base.
The “trash” is really the leftovers from past harvests that came out of our Cleaning Plant. When we harvest pecans and put them through the grading process, all the debris and lower grade pecans are filtered out. This includes sticks, leaves, shucks, shells, inedible pecans, etc., which are moved to a compost pile. When the shucks are fresh, they contain tannic acid that makes them unsuitable for mulch. However, after more than a year of self-composting, this natural “trash” can be recycled and used to help our newly planted pecan trees. This is one of the ways we can practice sustainable farming.
Late February/early March is also a good time to prune young pecan trees. We have some Pawnee in front of our gift shop that are about 5 years old. Our main goals for pruning are to reduce weak areas, remove any excess scaffold branches that are too low, encourage branches to grow out instead of in or straight up, and remove branches that are growing at too sharp of an angle.