Cash crops keep farmers going by providing a regular income and a steady cashflow. However, expanding your farming operations always remains a good investment, and there are various options to choose from. Pecan nut production became a popular option for a sound long-term investment.
Green Grow Pecan is a family owned farm. Marnus Groenewald explains how their business expanded with pecan nut farming.
“After doing some research, we started planting pecan nut trees 18 years ago,” Marnus explains.
What started off as an addition to their existing farming business, has now developed into their main focus. “For the past four years we have started to concentrate mainly on pecan nut production,” says Marnus. Today there are more than 400 hectares of pecan nut trees on the farm.
Obviously, switching from conventional cash crop farming to pecan nut farming takes time. The trees have to grow for seven years before a viable crop of nuts can be harvested, but once the trees have matured, the operation becomes quite lucrative.
There are still ways in which a farmer can ensure a good cashflow during the time it takes for the trees to mature. During the first 5 to 6 years of growth, the Groenewald family planted lucerne in the orchards to use as fodder for animals. After 6 years, the lucerne was replaced with grasses that they use for hay. The reason for this, Marnus says, is to ease the process of harvesting the nuts. The grass is cut in May before the nuts are harvested so that nuts do not escape the recovery process in tall grass.
In 2010 they realised a need to start producing their own pecan nut trees to plant in their own orchards. “Many of the nurseries supplied us with sub-standard trees. Therefore, we realised it would be better to start our own nursery. This would not only cut costs, but also ensured that we could produce good quality grafted trees,” says Marnus.
Over the past ten years, 30 000 of the trees planted in their orchard came from their own nursery. Then the nursery also began to earn money: They began to sell the surplus from their nursery, and quickly saw that there was a significant demand for good quality grafted pecan trees.
There are different sizes to choose from when you buy pecan nut trees. The diameter of the stem is measured about 20 mm above the grafting notch, and the length of the root is also measured. The trees have to reach specific measurements in order to be classified under sizes such as small, medium, large, extra-large and oversized. These farmstandards can be seen on the South African Pecan Producer Association (SAPPA) website.
Green Grow Pecan Nursery produces high quality pecan nut trees at affordable prices. Due to the fact that they use their own grafted trees in their orchards, they can guarantee the quality and genetics of their trees.
There are different cultivars to choose from. Marnus explains that they use Ukulinga trees for the lower stems and root systems, and then graft the required cultivar onto the lower stem. The cultivars that can be grafted include Wichita, Navaho, Choctaw, Sutex, and Western varieties. The various cultivars are suitable for various climatic and soil conditions.
“Farmers should not be afraid to invest in pecan nuts. There are many experts who gladly assist newcomers with advice, and the banks offer loans to aid farmers who embark on pecan nut farming,” says Marnus. It dramatically increases the value of your property and allows easier access to venture capital.
“There are many ways to ensure cashflow by combining the pecan nut trees with livestock, hay or vegetable farming,” Marnus explains. You also do not need a large farm to produce pecan nuts profitably. An orchard as small as 12,5 hectares can yield enough to make a profit.
For more information, contact him on +27 (0) 82-488-4288, or e-mail him at email@example.com. Visit their website at www.greengrowpecan.com, or find them on Facebook at @greengrowpecannursery.