Pecan Research

R. W. Fair, Texas Pecan Nursery, Tyler, Texas

The subject I have been asked to discuss, it seems, should be an easy one for me, after having spent almost fifteen years in pecan growing, but I will confess that it's a difficult job to get a good percent to live when two to three hundred thousand buds and grafts are being put in, in sixty to ninety days' time, which we have been doing for the last two years.

We have gotten a very small percent of grafts to live. It seems that the excessive moisture and extremely late, cold springs cause the graft to sour before a union is made. We have been more successful with budding, I am glad to say.

In order to find the best way to propagate pecan nursery stock, I have spent a great deal of time experimenting. Some of my experiments have shown a nice per cent of living buds the first year, but after having tried these out several years in succession they have, not proven to be very beneficial.

For successful grafting or budding of pecan trees there are four very important things to consider.

First: Be sure your buds or scions are in first-class condition. It's impossible to be successful no matter how well your work is done if your bud wood has been damaged. More buds are being lost today on account of the bud wood being improperly cared for than from any other cause. I have become convinced that the best way to keep bud wood is to pack it in boxes and use sawdust, moss, or shavings, that are just good moist, but not wet or soggy. When packed in this condition, place them on cold storage which will run from 30 to 35 degrees. I prefer putting all bud wood on cold storage, regardless of when it is to be used, and if it is not packed too wet your buds will be in good condition.

Second: Be sure your trees that are to be worked are in proper condition for the method you are to use. If whip grafting is to be done, you should begin your work while the trees and roots are thoroughly dormant and complete the job before the bark will slip on the little trees. I have done successful chip budding as early as February 20th while the trees were thoroughly dormant, but I prefer to begin chip budding about the time the buds on the seedlings are beginning to burst open. If you are going to patch or ring bud, you must wait until the bark slips freely on both your trees and bud wood. In order to get the buds that you have cut while the trees are dormant to slip, you must soak them in water a few hours and then wrap them in a blanket and keep in as warm a place as possible until they slip freely. If bark grafting is to be done, you must use grafts or scions that have been kept thoroughly dormant. Bark grafting is used very little in the nursery row, however, but I consider it a splendid method to use in top-working trees.

Third: Your budding or grafting must be done carefully. The use of a careless, uninterested man in the pecan nursery proves very, very expensive. It is very necessary, if the pecan nurseryman succeeds, that he uses men who are interested in the work to do his budding, grafting and pruning-in fact, the nursery work.

Fourth: Nursery trees must have the proper care or else your work will not amount to much. Topping, pruning and tying or staking buds is very important work. About 20 days as a rule after sap has begun to rise or after the budding has been done, you should cut your tops partly in two about 6 to 8 inches above the bud, then bend this top over and leave it on for 5 to 10 more days. At this time cut it entirely off and keep all buds or seedling sprouts rubbed off in order to force the bud. When the bud comes out and begins to grow it should be tied to this top that has been left above the bud when the tree was topped. This will prevent the wind from blowing off hundreds of little tender buds before they become strong enough to support themselves.

There are five different methods that can be used in propagating pecan trees, so I will discuss each one hurriedly but will not try to go in detail telling just how each method is put on, as time will not permit, but will ask that anyone that does not already understand the use of each method to write to the Department of Agriculture, Austin, Texas, for their Bulletin on Pecan Growing. This bulletin goes into detail and also shows pictures of each method step by step as the work is being done.

As whip grafting is done first, I will begin with it. In Florida, they begin grafting early in January and have good success usually, but we have made three efforts to graft in our nurseries and the results have been very unsatisfactory. It seems that the late cold spring and abundance of rain that we have cause the grafts or scions to sour out before a union can be made with the root.

From my past experience I cannot recommend whip grafting for our state, but am going to continue experimenting and hope to be more successful in the future.

Chip Budding. I suppose we have been more successful with chip buds than any other nursery in the south. While this method is rather uncertain with some varieties it has proven good with others. We get from year to year from 50 to 80 per cent of Stuart, Delmas and Moneymaker buds to live, but we run from 25 to 65 per cent when we bud Success, Schley, Burkett, Halbert and Texas Prolific.

It requires a more experienced man and a more careful man to chip bud successfully than it does for any other method. A good fit is necessary. I find that a fairly good carpenter will make a good chip budder quicker than anyone else. A good feature about the chip bud is that they can be put in when both the tree and buds are thoroughly dormant. I prefer, however, to see at least a slight sign of sap flow. This method gives us 30 to 40 days before we can patch or ring bud. If a chip bud fails to live by letting some growth come, they will be in good condition to work with the patch or ring bud in June or July. When a chip bud lives, it comes out and makes much faster growth than a patch or ring bud does. For an example, this spring we put in some patch and chip buds at the same time and the chip buds are living just about as well as the patch, but none of the patch buds have grown over 3 inches, while many of the chip buds have made a growth of 12 to 15 inches. It seems that the little piece of wood that is cut out with the chip bud, nourishes the bud and causes it to come out much quicker and make a faster growth the first season. I suppose our nursery uses the chip bud more extensively than all other nurseries in the Southwest put together. Chip budding is a pretty good method if you know how to use it, but I would advise a beginner to go slow with it until he gets the slight of putting them in.



Patch or Ring Budding. These methods are growing in favor with me, but I am convinced that this method should not be used in the spring to get salable trees for the following fall; because you cannot force it out in time to get anything like a season's growth, or the growth that you are entitled to from the root system it is on, in such a short time. I am speaking of these two methods under one heading because they are almost the same thing. In putting on the ring bud, you should use a bud that will go entirely around or almost around your little tree. While in using the patch bud, you simply use a smaller block of wood.

I believe either of these methods should be used in June or July and force the buds out the following spring. It is often the case that buds forced out early in the spring will grow from 12 to 24 inches before the buds put in, in the spring will even come out. If spring budding is done, the nurseryman does not get anything like the growth or price for his trees because a root system that is budded late will only make a 3 to 4-foot tree, while if it had been budded early, it would have very likely made a 5 to 6-foot tree and would have been worth quite a bit more. However, the customer that buys the 3 to 4-foot or late budded tree, is getting a root system that is just as large as he would be getting on the larger early budded tree and at the 3 to 4-foot price. The reason I make this statement is because I believe that the foundation and making of a pecan tree depends, to a very great ex- tent, on its root system. I do not believe the bud growth amounts to much, if you have a good, thrifty, well-developed root system, the growth will come if properly set and cared for. I believe that the experiments that Dr. Morris of New York has made with paraffin have opened a great field. We have two paraffin melters which we have been using in experimental work. We have used grafts that were dipped (quickly) in melted paraffin but as these-grafts did not have a good chance otherwise I am not ready to express an opinion for another season at least. I believe paraffin will also prove beneficial to cover the graft completely in bark grafting. Successful results have been obtained in patch and ring budding by tying the buds firmly and painting or covering the entire bud and wrapping with a4 thin coat of paraffin. In an experiment which I made on June 20th and when my trees were in full growth with plenty of grown leaves, by covering the entire graft and wrapping, I got several to grow. I do not believe paraffin will ever be used successfully in chip budding. My experiment along this line has been very unsatisfactory.

I would like to say to the man that. Just wants to bud a few pecan trees, either small or large, that I believe the unexperienced man can get better results by the use of the Jones Patch Budder than by any other method. With each budder there is furnished by Mr. Jones written instructions telling just how to bud, what kind of bud wood to use, how to prepare the wax cloths, etc. These instructions are good and are of great help to the beginner. You can get These from our Nursery, Texas Pecan Nursery, Tyler or Arp, Texas. We are not handling them for the profit but because we believe they can be successfu1ıy used by men that would never try to bud his trees otherwise. We have found that it is a paying business to try to help your fellowman.

The bud wood proposition is a very important one, and as, I see it, should be given due consideration at this meeting. There are thousands of people all over our country that have become interested in top-working their pecan trees; also, some bitter pecans and hickories are being worked. A great many of these people have to buy their bud wood and on account of the lack of a standard or the proper knowledge of the kind of buds that can be used, very unsatisfactory results have been obtained by the purchaser. I know of and have heard of a number of cases where they would get less than 50 per cent of buds that could be used. Ninety per cent or more of the people who sell bud wood and where shortages occur are honest in their mistake and want to give their customer one hundred per cent good bud, but they just lack the proper knowledge of knowing what a good bud is. Quite often the bud sticks are cut entirely too small and often the buds have formed on the stick so close until it is impossible to get them all off. As I see it, buds must have from 5 to 10 inches between the buds to be used successfully.

Would like to say right here, however, that practically all the people that we have gotten buds from make their counts hold out 100 per cent. There are others whom we have never done business with, but I have been told by their customers, that their count would hold out 100 per cent always.

In order that a standard for bud wood may be worked out, I am going to suggest that this association appoint a committee to work out a proper standard and that this standard be printed and furnished each and every member as soon as possible.

I want to leave my subject now and say that I think the pecan business offers the greatest opportunities of anything on' earth. When we sell a customer pecan trees to set out from one to one hundred acres to improved varieties of pecans, we feel we are doing him the greatest financial favor that we can do him.

I have two ambitions in life, and the first is to be able to live a clean, Christian life and the other is to be the father of one million pecan trees in the Southwest; or, in other words, I want our nursery to furnish he people of the Southwest 1,000,000 good, well developed budded or grafted pecan trees, and when this goal has been reached, we will begin on our second million. When one million has been scattered throughout the above sections and they all reach the age of ten years, I believe they wiı1 be worth $50. 00 each. I also believe that a pecan tree will easily pay from 7 to 10 percent on the above valuation when ten years old, if cared for properly.

When we have placed this number of trees through our section we feel that in ten years we will have added $50,000,000. 00 to the value of the country.

Pecan, growing as I see I is just in its infancy, so I say, on with the good work and let's make the Southwest a land of health, wealth and beauty.

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