For the last 5 years, we have been conducting a study on the performance of three low-input pecan cultivars—Lakota, Excel, and McMillan—at the UGA Ponder Farm near Tifton. As we have managed this particular orchard, low input in this case, refers to the absence of fungicide applications. The trees received all other normal inputs with regard to fertilizer, irrigation, insect management, etc. but never received any fungicide sprays. I have written about this before and the trial has been featured at numerous field days but we have completed and published the work on these 3 cultivars. The results and the paper describing the 5-year study in detail can be found at the link below:
As I have discussed the advantages of improving the profitability of our pecan orchards in Georgia with cultivars that have higher yield potential and better disease resistance over hte past couple months, this is what I have based those comments on. ‘Lakota’ has proven it can perform unbelievably well in yield, quality, and disease resistance. However, you must manage the crop load of ‘Lakota’. If you are wiling to do that, you can consistently keep yields in the 2000 lbs per acre range or higher. ‘Excel’ also performed well, with great yields and disease resisitance with no fungicides. We learned that ‘McMillan, though disease resistant does not produce the quality nor the yields of ‘Lakota’, at least through the first 15-16 years.
We don’t recommend growing even these highly resistant cultivars with no fungicide sprays. In this trial we were seeking maximum resistance at the present time. You should spray them 2-3 times through the season, but this will drastically reduce your cost of production, and along with the increased yields, you give yourself a buffer from low prices.
We will continue evaluating other cultivars in this trial as we now have ‘Avalon’ and ‘Kanza’ planted in the low input block.