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Can I Sell Sweet Gum Balls?

If you have sweet gum ball trees on your property, you might see the seeds as a huge nuisance.  But did you know you could possibly earn some money by selling them?

What variety of pecan tree should I plant on my property?

 

QUESTION:

What variety of pecan tree should I plant on my property?

ANSWER:

          What variety of tree you choose is perhaps the biggest decision involved in planting pecan trees.  Several years ago I talked to a man that was in his 70’s about some trees he had planted on his property. Right away I could tell that he wasn’t really happy with his experience. He had bought and planted cultivars from a local nursery, but he had never had a real good year of nut production. He said that they would grow nuts well but most years the scab would get on them so bad that they weren’t even worth messing with.  

          And on a similar note, when I was a younger man I planted a seed in my yard that I had gotten from a tree that was growing in my buddies yard. I assumed that because the nuts from his tree were good, if I grew a tree from one of those nuts, my tree would also be good. But the reality is that pecan trees just don’t work that way.  And had that tree actually survived, I probably never would have seen a good nut crop from it because there weren’t any other trees around to help pollinate it.

           Stories like these and other pecan tree fails are playing out every day, and its kind of sad because with a little bit of understanding and planning they can easily be avoided.

          I know your probably saying, “Alright enough of the stories, just tell me what variety to plant”.  And I would if I could but there isn’t a blanket answer to this question. To pick the right variety for you and your property you need a basic understanding of pecan trees and you need to identify what you want from them and what your willing to put into them.

SEEDLINGS vs CULTIVARS

         Let’s start understanding pecan trees by talking a little bit about the difference between seedlings and cultivars.  

         A seedling tree is a tree that has grown up straight from the nut and there hasn’t been any form of grafting done to it.  Any given nut that is allowed to grow into a tree is going to be unique unto itself.  It’s not necessarily going to share the characteristics that its parent tree had. Just like your kids are unique aside from you and your mate, so are pecan trees.

         Seedlings are mysterious (as your kids are), and there’s just no way to know what you have until they mature, and you’ve had time to observe them. Now, I’m not saying that a seedling is a bad tree, but it is unpredictable.

         Let’s imagine you plant a small orchard with all seedling trees and just let them grow. Well, 10-20 years from now you’re probably going to be really frustrated with your orchard. More than likely you’re going to have all kinds of problems with managing your trees because they are all unique in their characteristics.

         You're going to struggle with things like varying nut size, quality, poor pollination, disease control problems, sporadic harvest dates, and that’s just to name a few.

         So, what has happened over the years is that farmers and growers started looking for ways to combat these issues. They began to take trees that had the characteristics they desired and, through a process known as grafting, made exact copies of those trees so that future orchards could be full of trees with the same characteristics and therefore be way more manageable.

         That’s where we get cultivars from, they are varieties with desired characteristics that have been propagated through grafting.

         So, in theory, if you have an orchard full of a perfect cultivar life is going to be easy! All the nuts will fall at the same time and be of the same size and quality. If you did have pest or disease issues, you could be efficient in your treatments because all the trees are the same (they would have the same or a similar issue).  

         Check out the chart by clicking HERE to learn about all the major cultivars, to find the best ones for you.

POLLINATION

          Now don’t hit escape and run off shopping for that perfect cultivar because the truth is, that doesn’t exist. And there are a few more things you need to know before starting your search for trees.

          Pecan trees are monoecious (maa-nee-shuhs), which means that male and female flowers occur on the same tree. Now that seems great at first- like you kind of go- Ok this thing will pollinate itself, and, it may a little, but pecan trees always set a better crop of nuts if there’s another tree nearby to help pollinate it. 

          Why is that? Well, pecan trees exhibit dichogamy which means that the stigma on the female flower isn’t receptive at the same time the pollen is shed from the catkin on the male flower.

          So, although one pecan tree will have both the male and female flowers on it, the two flowers don’t do their thing at the same time. To make things a little more confusing, pecan trees come in type 1 and type 2 varieties, where their pollinating and receptivity are reversed from one another.

          Type 1 trees produce pollen and then have receptive female flowers. Type 2 trees are going to have receptive flowers first and then produce pollen.

          So, when selecting your variety of trees, and you’ll want at least two, you need to make sure that they complement each other in the pollination process. Many times this means that you want to have both type 1 and type 2, so that the pollination is shedding when the stigma is open to receive. But type one and 2 are not necessarily always going to do this, so check the pollination chart by clicking HERE to see what works for the types of cultivars you’re looking at.       

MY ORCHARD

          Let me tell you one more story about my orchard to help you understand why it’s important to pick your varieties based on your situation.

          I live 170 miles from where my trees are planted. I’m not going to be able to monitor my trees well for disease and insects and I’m certainly not going to be able to have a consistent spraying routine to fight off scab. Sometimes I go 3-4 weeks without even seeing my trees.  So, it was a high priority for me to select cultivars that were known for being low input, or low maintenance varieties.

          Also, I put my orchard in so I can have a place to test harvesters that we are working on at Bag-A-Nut. We purposefully selected cultivars that will have a variety of different sized nuts coming from our orchard so that we can be sure our harvesters are doing their job with different sized nuts.

I found varieties that worked well for my area (central GA), pollinated well together and worked well for my goals and maintenance levels.

HAVE A PLAN PEOPLE!!!

CONCLUSION:

          Alright, So what’s the take/away from all this pollination and cultivar talk? Well, as I said earlier, there is no such thing as the perfect cultivar. There are pros and cons to all of them. You need to take a little time to study them and select varieties that work well with each other and are a good fit for you and your property.  

          There are a lot of ways to mess up but don’t let it intimidate you. If you are still reading this it shows your thinking about these things, so you’re already ahead of the game, and I want to encourage you to keep going.

        Take some time and check out your state Universities web sites. I know the University of Georgia has a lot of info on pecan varieties. Also, get in touch with your county’s Agricultural extension office, their services are usually free. If your county doesn’t have one, I bet there’s one in your region that can help you.

Remember Ask yourself!!!

What do you want out of them?

What can you put into them?

And then select varieties that best fit with your answers and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying your pecan tree experience!

 

 

How To Pick Up Acorns For Deer- Part One


Caleb Dudley, Bag-A-Nut's CEO, scouted a parking lot to demonstrate how easy it is to pick up acorns with an Acorn Push Harvester.  Just before starting, he had this to say about the parking lot "It's full of acorns.  There are islands in the parking lot...it's a good source of easy to pick up deer feed.  Currently, there are a bunch of geese eating all my acorns.  We're gonna go run them off and pick up a bunch of acorns."

After joyfully chasing off the geese, he explained, "Today the machine we chose to use is the 18" Acorn Harvester.  This is our most popular sized acorn harvester.  It has a removable front basket and it's going to hold about 35-40 lbs. of acorns when full."

After picking up many acorns in an open area of the parking lot, he approached an island curb where acorns were piled up next to and on top of.  "For our machine to work the best, just kick them off and spread them out.  It gets them off the curb so they're not two or three layers thick and they pick up a lot better."

After a short time he says, "Right now my basket has got about 30 lbs. of acorns.  It's not quite full, but I'm starting to be able to feel it on the handle of the machine fighting against me, and right now is about the time I would normally empty it."  That's a lot of acorns and it took him five minutes or less to collect.
  
Back at the Bag-A-Nut warehouse, all the acorns were spread out on a sorting table.  "I went through and picked out the big pieces of trash, sticks and things like that.  Then I'm just going to set them aside for a couple days and let them dry out before I put them in a container for long term storage.  A lot of states don't allow you to put out corn and different bait attractants for wildlife, but you can relocate acorns."

He continued to explain his plan to use the acorns for late in the hunting season.  "We'll probably put them out in December when the natural acorns have already been eaten.  We'll use this as bait for our area where we're hunting.  In the short time I did it I wound up picking up 49 lbs."

To Be Continued...come back after the new year to see what kind of deer ate our bait.  Check out more Nut Dynasty videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCT_u7RSTsakxwnbpOEJVqgg