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Unwise to buy existing pecan orchard in north FL? (8b)  RSS feed

 
Christian Bruns
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From this ad:

ZILLOW

Theres a hundred or so pecan trees reaching maturity on 6 acres.  I plan on creating a food forest and zone 1 gardens etc... can anyone think of any reason this might be a poor choice instead of purchasing raw land.

thanks permies!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Pecan trees mature at a height of 75 feet with a 60 foot spread (closed canopy forest at maturity).

The issue you will have is that those pecan trees will eventually shade out everything under them.

Redhawk
 
Christian Bruns
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Thanks Bryant... I was going to take several down as I do not actually need 100 pecan trees.  Which brings to mind more questions.  I have never owned land or removed trees, but I am thinking the wood could be very useful.  There are some pretty good deals around here for 5+ acres, just trying to figure out if the benefit of having a pecan orchard would outweigh the hassle of having a pecan orchard.  Thanks so much for the comment!
 
John Elliott
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Christian Bruns wrote: just trying to figure out if the benefit of having a pecan orchard would outweigh the hassle of having a pecan orchard. 


Pecans make a great backdrop for a food forest.  Of course, my state does lead the country in pecan production, so my view might be skewed.  It's true that the canopy will prevent sun-loving summer plants from producing, but blueberries and aloes are two things that grow well in their shade.  But pecans are often the last to leaf out in the spring and the first to drop their leaves in the fall, so that leaves open the possibility of growing winter veggies under them, like collards, chicory, fava beans, and onions.  Or you could grow a grain crop.  Crimson clover is often grown in pecan orchards, sown in the fall and cut or plowed under in the spring.  It makes a good forage for animals, and since it is a legume, it provides nitrogen for the trees.
 
Christian Bruns
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Thanks so much for the thoughtful reply, John.  I'm assuming you are just north of the state line?  Well this has given me much to think about.  I'm riding out to see the property today, hopefully I'll have a better idea after how the property feels.  We have a lot of blueberry fars here, they do well in the naturally acidic soil I guess.  I'd love to incorporate the crops you mentioned on my site, I do plan on grazing goats and chickens.  Thanks so much for the excellent reply!
 
wayne fajkus
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It would be sad to see half the trees destroyed, but there are some advantages. Starting new trees, you'd have to protect them from the goats. Sounds like these are big enuff to not be destroyed by them.

I like the idea of a hybrid pasture and this is the path I'm taking. I'm combining cows with pecans. I'm using a very spacious layout on the pecans. During the 10 years or so it takes to get the pecans producing, the land is being utilized by the cows. Whereas a new tight spaced orchard, you have nothing in those 10 years.



 
Christian Bruns
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Hello Wayne, thanks for the reply.  If I were to start from raw land I would never have row cropped them so tightly, but the land might go for a reasonable price and come with a potential crop yield so here I am.  I think they are old enough to survive goats.  I like the way you are using the space, thanks for the input.
 
Ken W Wilson
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Producing pecan trees are pretty valuable. I believe with really mature trees you only need 8 trees per acre I think you start with around 40 and thin a couple times. The University of MO has a lot of information about pecan production. A lot of pecans are grown here. They are mostly native trees.                         

You could definitely grow pasture or hay between. Maybe berries.

I only have five pecan trees in my yard.  I've looked into planting an orchard. I may do it yet.


 
Casie Becker
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I have a large pecan in my front yard and can verify that many winter crops are possible underneath them. This is the first year I've done favas, but I have two and three year old kales that only survive the summer because of the pecan's shade. The kale only produces a usable crop during the winter, but that could be from a variety of factors including more than just the shade.
 
Ken W Wilson
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Our native pecans are low maintenance here. I think most farmers here don't do anything to them except keep the grass mowed so the pickers will work. It might be different there. If you couldn't grow good enough pecans to sell without chemicals, I'm sure goats or hogs would like them.
 
Ken W Wilson
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If I was buying land that already had trees, there isn't any other kind of tree I'd rather have.
 
Marco Banks
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Pecan is a lovely wood for woodworking.  The trees on this land sound young and smallish, so there might not be that much value added in taking them down just yet.  But eventually, even if you are not harvesting the pecans, those are great trees.  If you didn't want to actively manage the nut orchard, some pigs would be thrilled to help you with the yearly harvest.  Unfortunately, so would crows.

I'd want to walk the land and take a close look at it before I'd make a decision about whether or not it could be converted into a food forest easily.  No orchard captures 100% of the sunlight that falls upon it.  There will be all sorts of smaller pockets of land that will be in full sun.  As you walk the land, take note of how the sun falls and how the energy is captured/wasted. 

If you can purchase the property for the cost of the land, then the trees come as a bonus, not a premium.  If you eventually cut most of those trees down, no big deal—it's not a financial loss to you.  However, having trees planted and growing is a huge advantage to you.  The sun in Florida is hot and unrelenting.  Some shade will be a welcome addition, even for sun loving veggies.  Further, having that established root network will mean a well established fungal community within the soil profile. 

Thinking about shaping/contouring the land, is there a slope?  Is there a possibility of swales and a pond?  If so, that may determine which trees you'd want to take down.

Get out on the land and slowly walk the property.  Bring along a sketch pad.  Note the prevailing winds, the movement of the sun, any evidence of water flow, any evidence of nutrient flow (from properties up-hill from yours).  Map it out -- roads and hardscaping, buildings, water sources, existing fencing, etc.  If you like to think aloud, it would be great to have a guy like geoff lawton to bounce ideas off.  Obviously, Geoff is far away doing amazing things, but someone who understands permaculture and natural systems . . . a sounding board, fellow brain-stormer, and another set of eyes.

For what it's worth, I live in a similar latitude (34 degrees-ish) to N. Florida (32 degrees-ish).  I regularly grow crops throughout my orchard 12 months of the year.  Cool season crops like carrots, beets, lettuces, cabbages, etc. do great under the shade of my fruit trees throughout the heart of the summer.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Christian Bruns wrote:Thanks Bryant... I was going to take several down as I do not actually need 100 pecan trees.  Which brings to mind more questions.  I have never owned land or removed trees, but I am thinking the wood could be very useful.  There are some pretty good deals around here for 5+ acres, just trying to figure out if the benefit of having a pecan orchard would outweigh the hassle of having a pecan orchard.  Thanks so much for the comment!


If you wait it out, the pecan trees will thin themselves with the faster growing ones shading out the slow growers, that will save you time in thinning and you will have the better trees left.

Pecan wood is indeed valuable, it is prized as a smoking wood, great for furniture and other wood working projects, the trick is to have the trees large enough in diameter as to be able to get boards out of it on the wood working side.
Smoking wood can be any size and it is usually sold by poundage, so for small trees (under 8 inch diameter trunk) that might be the best way to sell.

Pecan's are not a hassle at all, you only have to tend to them twice a year, if at all.  Planting vegetable type crops under them is a great way to use those spaces and by taking care of those crops, the trees are naturally taken care of too.

Pecans like a soil that is in the 6.8 to 6.3 pH range, that is where they give the most, both in growth and nut production.

Redhawk
 
Christian Bruns
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Ken W Wilson wrote:If I was buying land that already had trees, there isn't any other kind of tree I'd rather have.


Ken and Casie thanks so much for sharing your experiences.  I was leaning away from it but you all have given me so much to think about.  Thank you sincerely.
 
Christian Bruns
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Marco Banks wrote:For what it's worth, I live in a similar latitude (34 degrees-ish) to N. Florida (32 degrees-ish).  I regularly grow crops throughout my orchard 12 months of the year.  Cool season crops like carrots, beets, lettuces, cabbages, etc. do great under the shade of my fruit trees throughout the heart of the summer.


Thanks so much for that detailed, and thoughtful response.  I have only visited on bike and it was kind of a drive by situation because I could not get in.  It is a 7 acres fully row cropped with pecan trees and some of them are certainly smaller than others, but they are young for sure.  I like how it is oriented, the property line in the back (north)  provides a great treeline and share.  I have a concern about the next door neighbors.  They also have a small pecan orchard, but the places has trailers and  a mobile home, some trash and cars out front.  I'd want to buffer that with bamboo and other fast growing trees and shrubs.

I'll certainly do what you suggest, thanks so much for your time.
 
Christian Bruns
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:If you wait it out, the pecan trees will thin themselves with the faster growing ones shading out the slow growers, that will save you time in thinning and you will have the better trees left.


I can see there were several small trees in between the larger.  Thanks for the tips about the wood, this is very useful information.

~Best
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