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The Munday Courier of Munday, Texas

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I was awakened early Monday morning by the sound of a thundering herd of buffalo. Actually it was Freddy chasing Francine across my roof. Freddy is a member of the Freeloading Clan of the Munday squirrel nation. It's a fairly large tribe of hunter-gatherers. From what I've been able to translate from Freddy's Tex-Squirley dialect, the tribe is unhappy about this year's pecan crop. Some of the clan has resorted to eating the bark from pecan trees. Freddy said it's really bad when squirrels begin eating bark in the winter time. It's not uncommon when they eat bark from the softer limbs in the summer, to get moisture.

"But Freddy, too much moisture is part of the problem this year," Francine said. "You know Freddy, we were going to have a real good crop, then everything went wrong."

"Yeah, this has beem a screwy year," Freddy quipped. "First we had a drought, then a hard freeze and big rain in early fall, and now it won't quit freezing and snowing and raining."

"Yeah, and we're hungry. Our stash won't last through the summer. What are we going to do?," Francine asked.

"I don't know, Francine. They are too expensive in the grocery story, and besides they run me out every time I go there," Freddy said. "Every year I plant new trees, but these human beans won't let them grow. "

"What was it Tony St. James said on the radio about bears getting into our pecans?", Francine asked.

"You silly girl, he didn't say bears, he said pecan nut casebear-ers. That's a small insect that infested our trees and probably caused the nuts to fall off early," Freddy grunted. "I think it's because the humans did't spray insecticide on the trees."

"I thought our human was a good person," she said. "Are you saying he's not?"

"I think he's a good person, he just doesn't know how to care for pecan trees," Freedy answered.

I did a little home work after listening in on Freddy and Francine's conversation. Freddy was correct about the casebearer. You can tell if it's a casebearer if the paean has a small hole in the base of the pecan. Don't ask me which side the base is. Poor pollinaton also causes a drop from June through July. Water stress is another reason the nuts fall off early. Pecan trees should be watered every two weeks, three weeks at the most. Nutritional problems from shallow soil or poor fertilization can cause pecans to shed throughout the year.

Water stage in later July and early August is the most common form of pecan drop. Any stress received by the tree at this stage can result in major fruit drop. Some trees lose half they're crop if not managed correctly in water stage.

Watering grass around the trees is not enough for trees, you need to slowly soak the tree's root system at the dripline of the tree and not the trunk. The tree's drip line is directly beneath the perimeter of the limbs, the tree's whole area. If the roots aren't "watered enough, you will encourage the roots of young plants to grow up near the surface, which will make them more dependent on frequent watering to satisfy them and give them poorer holding power in the soil.

Freddy says pecans tend to produce on alternate years. However, he says the better the management program the less the alternate bearing characteristics.

See what we can learn from our little neighbors if we just listen. It's even possible to learn from other humans, if we will just listen to them.

If you like pecans, don't spare the water. Go ahead and water, after all, the city needs the money.

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Original Publication Date: March 3, 2010

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