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Springtime in the Orchard: Pollination

Springtime is flowering time in the pecan orchard. That's right, pecan trees do have flowers. In fact, they have two different kinds of flowers. Pollination in the spring allows us to harvest our pecans in the fall.


The first kind of flowers on the trees are the flowers that produce the pollen. Pecan trees have stalks called “catkins” that produce pollen. These stalks have tiny little flowers that contain the pollen that's necessary to fertilize the fruiting flowers. On the very same tree, there are also flowers that are going to produce the pecans in the fall. These flowers are tiny and cluster together on the tree. 


Now, every pecan tree can be classified in one of two ways. One is called protandrous. That's where the pollen is shed before the fruiting flower on the same tree is ready for it. That's protandrous. Protogynous, that's where the fruiting flower, the flower that will produce the nuts in the fall is ready for pollen. But the pollen on that same tree isn't necessarily ready to be shed. 


Every single variety is either protagonists or protagonists. Pecan trees will self pollinate, but they're not very efficient at it. And in order for us to ensure a good fruit set here in the orchard, we have to plant compatible varieties in close proximity to each other. So every row is designated with a color code. For example, the Desirable trees are planted in rows next to rows of Kiowa. One variety is Protagoras and the other one is protagonists. We have to plant them this way in order to ensure good pollination. If we didn't, we wouldn't have those high quality pecans that you come to expect from Royalty Pecans farm in the fall.