Nuts about Pecans

With the rise of the information age, people are gaining access to more facts about nutrition and how best to sustain healthy habits that promote long life and higher productivity. Nuts are at the forefront of this new wave as the snack of choice for those adopting better eating habits to be more health-conscious.

Since this trend is growing and gaining momentum, and pecan nut export figures are on a steady rise, what better niche market for producers to explore than pecan nut farming? It is said that income that comes from just two pecan nut trees is equivalent to that which comes from one ton of maize.

When initially establishing a pecan nut orchid, it is advisable to start during the colder winter months (July and August) and to ensure that the trees are not planted too shallow, as that is usually the main cause of pecan nut trees drying out and dying.

While the winter is perfect for the budding stages, the South African long hot summer climate is ideal for growing these nuts to the point of harvest.

There are several cultivars and some fare better than others. The most common varieties suitable for the western parts of South Africa are Navaho, Wichita and Choctaw. Witchita is a hybrid between Halbert and Mohah. The nuts are of medium size, attractive appearance, high quality and have a high kernel percentage.

The Choctaw is the most widely used cultivar with an index of 100. Pecans are susceptible to scab so great care has to be taken throughout the growing process to ensure that the trees remain in good, healthy condition until harvest.

Fertilisation with ample quantities of zinc is therefore vital as soon as the tree starts to bear fruit. The trees get most of the moisture they need from the soil in which they are planted, so be sure that the soil is wet, sandy or loamy.

Pecan farming requires patience. Bearing happens gradually, lightly at first and then gaining momentum as the tree matures. A single tree can mature for up to twenty years. It is a long-term investment. One that, with care and paying attention to export trends, will pay off beautifully.