Pecan Research

---------------- Dr. B. Youngblood, Director, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station System, A. & M. College of Texas, College Station, Texas For a number of years I had inquiries concerning the station's attitude toward research having in view the solution of a number of impending problems pertaining to pecan production in Texas. I have also discussed this matter personally a number of times with such men as Mr. J. H. Burkett, Dr. A. Caswell Ellis, Dean Kyle, Mr. E. E. Risien, Mr. D. F. Moore, Mr. A. C. Easley, Mr. W. J. Millican, Mr. R. W. Fair; with the citizenship of Brownwood, San Saba, and South Texas districts. At any and all times I have taken the position that those interested in any branch of agricultural enterprise have a right to ask the public to solve their problems if solution is within the purview of scientific possibility; that while it is not the function of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station System or its director to take the lead in the matter of asking support for new lines of work, it is my business to act as an expert witness, so to speak, in case the people interested should ask for such appropriations. For example, we can be of some assistance in the matter of presentation of such a request, but more particularly as to the conditions under which different lines of scientific work may be successfully prosecuted. It is not my purpose today to discuss lines of work which might be conducted other than to say that some of them would require the scientific services of the plant breeder, some those of the plant pathologist and physiologist, some those of the entomologist, and some those of pecan propagators and growers. In case the work is established, it will be the policy of the station to confer with the growers in various parts of the State with the view of ascertaining the most important problems, and then without great 34 FOURTH ANNUAL SESSION delay putting those competent to make the studies at work doing so. I have been asked for suggestions as to how to proceed in the matter of securing support for pecan investigation work in general, and a pecan experiment station in particular. My suggestions, which are very simple, are as follows: 1. It should be decided whether the work shall be gone into whole-heartedly or half-heartedly. If whole-heartedly, then a business estimate should be made as to the land, the facilities, the specialists, and the laborers, required for starting the work under appropriate auspices. This estimate should be made and submitted to your Legislature by a committee of representative pecan growers of Texas. 2. The Legislature should be asked for the amount thus determined upon, and for authority for the director of the Agricultural Experiment Station System to proceed with the organization and development of an appropriate agency for the study of the several impending pecan problems in this State. This would involve a central pecan study laboratory in one of the leading pecan growing areas, and possibly outlying work at existing substations, 15 in number, and also possibly on the pecan groves of leading growers in the different sections of the State. 3. The Legislature should be given to understand that if any such work as this is to be a success, its continuity should be assured by the State owning its central laboratory and the necessary lands that go with it. Agricultural problems in general, and pecan problems in particular, will never be solved by "fly-by-night” methods or by any quick or short-cut routes which are so often proposed in lieu of the scientific method of solution. Those who hope to arrive at the solution of pecan problems by an easier route than the scientific way are simply dreaming dreams that will never come true and hoping for something for nothing, which one never gets. 4. The Legislature should be asked to leave the entire matter of where the central farm or laboratory shall be located open. The Board of Directors of the Agricultural Experiment Station System should be permitted to function in this connection, in accordance with the law. This board has the authority to locate such stations as may be necessary for the solution of Texas farm and ranch problems. It happens, however, that the director of the Station System and the citizens interested are always called upon for their advice and recommendations before the site is selected. 5. It should be impressed upon the Legislature and the citizenship alike that a location should be determined in a scientific, rather than a political, manner. In the selection of a location, pressure is always brought to bear by chambers of commerce and local citizens to place the work here, there, and yonder, with no reference to the convenience of those served by its findings. If in the course of events, appropriations should be made for the development of a research agency for the study of pecan problems throughout this State. I can only promise that I shall do my duty to the best of my ability and without any prejudice whatsoever. And, as in the case of the citrus station in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, the Wichita Valley Station,  the substation at Balmorhea, and thirteen others, I believe that the people interested will be satisfied with our action, whatever it may be, when the site shall have been selected and the work put into operation. That such work may prove profitable can only be the progress which has been made in pecan research during the past half century on the one hand, and in other lines of agricultural work on the other. As to whether the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station System, in its existing lines of work, has been worthwhile, the people will have to be the judge. I will call your attention to the following facts, however, in this connection: The Plains Country has become a great agricultural region, and it was not an agricultural region at all until the Spur, Lubbock, and Chillicothe substations developed and distributed standard varieties of milo, kafir, and feterita, and introduced cotton in the Plains region, so that today we may say that the great Northwestern part of Texas, which is so prominent, agriculturally speaking, has become so by using the Agricultural Experiment Station crops in its development. There is no way of determining the dollar-value of such a service, except to say that the Agricultural Experiment Station System of Texas, by virtue of developing and improving these crops and making them available to the farmers and inspiring some confidence that they would grow out there, has made it possible for Texas to maintain several hundred thousand families in a country which before was open range or large pastures. Many other examples might be mentioned if time permitted. It would likely we worth many hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to the pecan growers were every pecan tree of an improved variety, growing on an appropriate stock, and both stock and variety well adapted to the particular location in which it is planted. Moreover, it would undoubtedly be worth many hundreds of thousands of dollars per annum if we had more definite knowledge of the nature and control of pecan insect enemies and diseases. It would likewise be worth a great deal to pecan growers to know whether the particular soil which they have is really suited to pecan growing on a commercial scale. It would be worth a great deal to know the water requirements necessary for successful pecan culture, and it would be worth a great deal, still, if the blooming period of pecan trees were synchronized so as to get the best pollination each year Texas, being the greatest pecan State in the Union, should take the lead in the solution of pecan problems, and we should become the center of the pecan world, not only in the matter of knowledge of the industry, but also in actual accomplishment in superior plantings and in big crops. In conclusion, I will state that in case the Legislature should make an appropriation, I shall use all the influence I possess to see that the work is appropriately located and distributed over the State; that every dollar of State money brings one or more dollars’ worth of property, to say nothing of scientific returns. No one shall sell the State any land at a price anything like its real value. Whoever gets the location will have to make a financial sacrifice to do so, everything else being equal. In no event shall we locate 36 FOURTH ANNUAL SESSION the station, however, where the site will not be the most suitable one, merely in order to secure a financial concession. What we shall demand will be an appropriate location, scientifically speaking, and that this one be worth a great deal more in money than the State actually pays for it. Now, if you want real honesty in the use of public funds and scientific service to the industry, the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station System is at your disposal, and awaits both your support and your suggestions.

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