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OSU pecan expert still positive despite nutty weather


After a late spring cold spell in mid-April, many pecan producers were feeling a bit under the weather about this year's crop yield.

The recent warm weather is just what the Oklahoma pecan industry ordered, said Eric Stafne, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension fruit and nut crop specialist, who remains positive about the 2009 crop.

"I think we'll see some sort of reduction, but it will still be a pretty decent crop year," he said. "It's really too early to tell the extent of the damage."

The cold weather affects the pecan industry differently in different areas of the state. Some of the earlier bud breaks, like those in southwestern Oklahoma, received the most damage. Pecans in north-central Oklahoma may not have suffered near as much. Pecans in Oklahoma's north-central area are just now going through bud break, delayed because of the cold spell.

Dick Hoffman, owner of Hoffman Pecan Farm, just east of Stillwater, is excited about the warmer weather.

"We're just kind of waiting on the trees to get a little further out of dormancy," he said. "We'll start doing our grafting about the first of May and continue through the first week of June."

Hoffman has been in the industry for 43 years. His operation is a fully family operated business. The farm not only produces and sells pecans, but also is a major supplier of grafts throughout the region. Grafting is a process of converting a tree into a different variety, cloning the desired tree.

"If you have a clone of every tree, you know what you're going to get in terms of yield and output; also, you know how to manage them," Stafne said. "Sprays will be going on at the same time. Harvest will be going on at the same time. All of those things make management much easier."

Stafne said orchard management is the key to a successful season. Producers can see and treat for insects, but sprays should be applied before any diseases are noticed. Also, weed control around younger trees throughout the season is important and will be of benefit in the long run.

Additional information about pecan management is available through OSU Facts by visiting www.hortla.okstate.edu/pecan/index.htm.

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