Taber Shelton, Pecan Grower Gonzales, Texas
Even though we planted some papershell varieties in our bottom this year, our production is almost entirely limited to native pecans. We believe it is better to strive for maximum production from native trees than to topwork to papershell varieties.
From past experience we have noted that during light crop years most of our pecans were harvested from well-spaced trees. We also noted that many of the crowded trees produced very few pecans. For a number of years we have been painting a mark on the trees that produce a good yield of high-quality nuts. Also in marking a tree, we take into consideration the health and vigor of the tree, never marking one that is weak or injured. These marked trees have been observed several years and others have been marked when their performance warranted it. After careful consideration of the performance of each tree, a number of the unmarked ones have been cut out to provide more space for the better trees.
For the past three years we have been cutting approximately two to three hundred trees per year. At this rate it will take about ten more years to thin the entire bottom. Because of the rapid growth and spreading of the remaining trees after thinning, we anticipate having to start back over the grove with a second thinning operation immediately following the first. The thinning operation is a slow one because we must be absolutely sure that we leave the very best trees.
Our experience has shown that a chain saw is superior to other types of saws in the cutting of large trees. Difficulty is encountered trying to cut large trees flush to the ground with a chain saw so we find it easier to cut them about two and one-half feet above the ground. The tractor operator can easily see the stump which facilitates spraying and mowing.
By combining our thinning program with spraying, mowing, and other cultural practices, we believe we obtain maximum production from our native pecans.