C. L. Smith, Physiologist U. S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service Shreveport, Louisiana Chairman, The Research Hour
The Agricultural Research Service of the U. S. Department of Agriculture is conducting experiments on various problems concerned with pecan production at the pecan field stations. These include problems in orchard management, fertilization practices such as kinds of fertilizer, rates, and time of applications, and cover crops. Studies of disease control, including the testing of new materials and methods of application, are being carried out. One project of prime importance to the future of pecan growing is the crossbreeding and testing of new varieties to improve production, quality of nuts, and disease resistance. The various state agricultural experiment stations in the South also are doing research work on pecan production problems.
During this "research hour” there will be reports by research workers on certain phases of the studies being conducted. Progress is being made in solving some of the problems concerned with the production of pecan nuts, and there are many problems still to be solved. However, the results of pecan research, together with observations over a long period of time, indicate very clearly that one thing that is most needed to improve pecan production is better farming practices in pecan orchards. In many instances the trees are crowded so that they cannot set or mature good crops of nuts;
In many cases the trees have too much competition with grasses, weeds, or other plants for moisture and plant food; the trees may be deficient in plant food, especially nitrogen, and they may be trying to grow on land that is not suitable for pecans. In many cases, other crops or enterprises are in competition with pecans for attention and too often the pecan is neglected in order to practice good farming with other crops. But it is well to remember that pecan trees respond to good farming practices, and unless a tree vigorous and strong it cannot produce large crops of nuts. Without good production pecan growing is not profitable. The control of pecan diseases and insects is economical only on trees capable of setting and maturing good crops of nuts. Good farming in pecan orchards generally insures that the pecan trees will be healthy and capable of high production where good varieties are used and the soil conditions are suitable for pecans.