I am looking to plant 25 pecan trees this year on a large lawn and to transplant a lot more new saplings into buckets for later years. I have about 30 acres of current modern farmland which is usually rotated with just soybeans and wheat. I would like to change this acreage into a pecan orchard but would like to implement as much of permaculture design as possible. The 1st year trees will be kept in containers until it becomes necessary to plant them on the 30 acres. That will keep farm revenue flowing in the meantime. I'm estimating a total of about 250 trees but I'm concerned about not having enough diversity and spacing as well.
I guess my main questions are what else can a plant around these pecan trees as a guild? What plants and wildlife would be most beneficial? I don't mind throwing some other trees in the mix at all as long as I will be able to harvest the pecans years down the road. Are there any designs that can I can implement that will provide other cash &/or food crops within this orchard? Any ideas or help would be very much appreciated. Thanks!
I would seriously consider a design that incorporates enough other trees so that the bad effects of monoculture are mitigated. A lot of pecan orchards in the South have ongoing insect and fungus issues in significant degree due to this. Do some research on chestnuts, walnuts, and fruit trees. You want to break up the stand so that bugs and spores can't just drop from one tree to the next on the least breeze. The more mixed up the better, but even if you plant alternate rows you can still use machinery to manage and harvest the crop. Since you don't have anything permanent in the ground on the site yet you also have the opportunity for the serious site preparation that is best done before permanent trees go in. (swaling, keyline plowing, intensive cover cropping, etc.)
I lived around pecan orchards in GA for 10+ years so I'm a bit familiar with them....Another thing that some people are doing, especially with older trees, is putting livestock under them to graze the grass or other groundcover. Cattle, geese, and chickens can all work. These improve the soil, keep grass controlled and reduce the need to mow, and produce additional yields. But conventional spraying is inimical to them, and cows, especially, need to be removed well prior to harvest season since the manure can interfere with harvest machinery. Chickens or turkeys will often scratch the manure apart, though, looking for bugs and undigested feed....