Planting for the next generation.

The pecan trees we are planting this winter will start to bear nuts in 8 years, and they will reach full production in about 16 years. We hope we're around to see that...

The young pecan tree shown in image one is putting on a big flush of new growth. We use borders along the tree row to flood irrigate each strip of new trees. This land was precision leveled with a GPS system and large earth moving equipment before the trees were planted. This ensures that the irrigation water and the rainfall will flow evenly across the land.

As the irrigation water moves down the row, many of the weed seeds are germinated, leaving the green strip you can see in image two. As an organic farm, we do not use herbicides such as RoundUp to kill the weeds. We will actually mow the weeds to create a mulch strip. Marcello Stabile, our agronomist from Brazil, helped to oversee the planting of 50 acres of new pecan trees this winter.

Native pecan trees are usually found growing along rivers in the southern US and Mexico. Although the field in the next image is only about 100 yards from the Rio Grande River, it is unlikely that flood water from the river will reach the trees. An extensive system of dams and levees is in place to control the flow of the Rio Grande. Rest assured, however, that nature will eventually put together a flood event that will put this whole area under water.

This spring, we are growing about 60 acres of watermelons. The next image shows that using a mechanical planter and the seedlings that we raised in a greenhouse, our crew is able to plant about 25 acres of watermelons a day.

Finally, you can see that we have spent many hours perfecting the art of mechanical weed control. We use various implements , such as a rotary hoe, to control the weeds in our melon patch. To do a good job, you have to drive the tractor in an absolute straight line. It is much faster and easier to spray a field with herbicide, but we simply don't know much about the long term effect of exposure to synthetic chemicals in our diet.

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Written on Wednesday, 05 April 2006 00:00 by Bob Ackerley

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