The past few weeks we've been focused on irrigation repair. Since the number of major leaks is minimal this year, we are addressing all the "smaller" leaks that have lingered over the years. Those smaller leaks mostly consist of pipes with small damage from some equipment, and wear and tear.
We use a piece of equipment called a soil renovator, which punches holes on the orchard floor. This tool is used to help water and nutrients better permeate the orchard floor, down to the tree roots. Until some recent rains, the ground has been too hard to use this implement. The tines just danced across the top of the compacted soil doing no good at all. With the rain from a couple weeks ago (a total of 1.8 inches) the soil softened enough to get the tines to go to full depth, eight inches. We're watering and irrigating as necessary through this heat wave, and this strategy helps the trees receive and retain much needed water!
Andy inspecting the soil renovator
Punctures from the soil renovator
During spring and through summer, we carefully monitor the trees to ensure they receive proper nutrients, protection from damaging pests and environmental issues. The nut sizing (nut growth and expansion) stage will start soon making the pecans vulnerable to environmental threats, so we will likely need to spray to alleviate any potential problems. Since pest and environmental pressures have been so low, we've avoided spraying and treating more than usual we need to and giving room for the natural processes to do what they do best.
The picture below is of special interest to us, and we think will be of interest to you, too. These are leaves from two Wichita trees. The leaf on the right comes from a check tree, meaning it has received no spray or special treatment. You can think of this tree as the 'control' in an experiment. The leaf on the left also comes from a Wichita tree two rows over that has received the full treatment program. Both are the fourth leaf back from a terminal with nut clusters.
Sprayed tree (L) vs check tree (R)
Both appear healthy. No damage, and enough chlorophyll to give it a nice green tone. But note that the sprayed leaf on the left has two more leaflets than the leaf from the check tree and just a visual observation shows that the leaflets on the sprayed tree are longer and wider. It just has more photosynthetic surface than the check tree allowing it to produce more food for the developing nut cluster at the end of the stem.
This shows that our trees are happy, well-fed, and receiving plenty of nutrients.
Over the next couple of months, we'll continue to keep a close eye on the trees and the growing pecan clusters. This is a vulnerable stage for our crop.
We'll post back with another update in a couple weeks. Feel free to follow us on Instagram or Facebook @royaltypecans for regular updates!