There continues to be much interest in hedging pecan trees. Hedging is basically, pruning of the tree with a large “hedging” machine. This is normally done in the winter and removes all the growth on one or both sides of a tree within a certain distance from the trunk and also usually tops the tree to control tree size. This is a common practice in the Western pecan growing regions of The U.S. and is beginning to be used here in Georgia by some of our more progressive producers. The goal of hedging is to control tree size, thereby making it easier to control scab by getting better spray coverage and to open up more sunlight in the orchard while maintaining a high tree density, usually of 35 trees or more per acre. Here in Georgia, one method of hedging is to hedge one side of both rows on every other middle in two successive years (alternating rows), skip year 3 and begin again in year 4. Another method is to hedge every 5th row and over the course of 5 years, you hedge the whole orchard without taking too much growth at one time. Preliminary research results here in Georgia indicate an increasing advantage to hedging as more of the fruit are within reach of more efficacious fungicide coverage, along with no negative effect on yield and usually a positive effect.
One issue we currently we have with hedging is that current 2014 crop insurance does not cover hedged orchards unless an RMA Regional Office determined yield request is submitted. We will be working with RMA going forward to try and get hedging approved as a practice for crop insurance in Georgia pecan production