Pecan Growers Boost Revenue by Growing
Organically By Alfredo Flores November 4, 2008
Pecan growers might be able to boost their profits by growing pecans
organically, according to Agricultural
Research Service (ARS) scientists studying production systems for this
popular tree nut.
U.S. growers provide about 90 percent of the world's pecans, with an
annual crop of about 200 million pounds worth about $400 million. Pecans,
popular in baked goods and confections, are a good source of protein and
contain antioxidants and plant sterols thought to be beneficial to human
In 2002, ARS scientists led by
Bradford, research leader at the agency's
Farming and Natural Resources Research Unit in Weslaco, Texas, began
transitioning a 27-year-old, conventionally managed pecan orchard to a
certified-organic-managed system. The 20-acre test site is located within the
Gebert commercial pecan orchard in Comanche County in north-central Texas.
The primary objective of the project is to provide information to
pecan growers on how to convert from conventional management systems that rely
on synthetic chemicals to an organic system.
Contrary to conventional growers' expectations, the ARS organically
treated test site out-yielded the conventionally managed, chemically fertilized
Gebert orchard in each of the past five years. Yields on ARS' organic test site
surpassed the Gebert commercial orchard by 18 pounds per tree in 2005, and by
12 pounds per tree in 2007.
The conventional management system generates about $1,750 per acre
when the crop is sold. But the ARS certified-organic-management system would
gross $5,290 per acre.
These greater dollar returns prove that adopting an organic system and
obtaining certification could provide more income for pecan growers, thanks to
increased yields and improved kernel quality.
about this research in the November/December 2008 issue of Agricultural
ARS is a scientific research agency in the
U.S. Department of