Many pecan orchards in our area are currently in the pollination stage of growth. Around the county I have seen many pecan trees with a good crop of flowers on them. It is a good sign when the trees have a good crop of flowers on them. It varies with variety, but you could roughly say that if at harvest a pecan tree had 60% or so of shoots bearing nuts then that would be a real good crop. A rule of thumb that I have read is that 30% bearing shoots is a light crop, 50% bearing shoots is a good crop, 70% or more bearing shoots is a heavy crop that could potentially need to be crop thinned to help with this year’s nut quality and next year’s return crop. Nut cluster size will also be a yield determining factor. An excessively heavy crop load can put a lot of stress on a pecan tree which can increase the probability of a lighter crop the following year. We are a long way from pecan harvest and a lot could happen between now and then, but pecan growers like to see a good amount of flowers because that means there is the potential for a good crop this year.
Some varieties such as Desirable will abort many flowers and self thin themselves. I have seen many Desirable trees this year with a 85% or more of shoots with flowers, but many of these flowers will not go on to produce nuts because of self thinning. One reason that Desirable is usually a consistent producer of pecans is that it self thins its nuts and does not get overly stressed and go into an alternate bearing cycle. Other varieties will retain a higher percentage of flowers that will go on to produce nuts than Desirable will, but they may not put on as many flowers as Desirable does in the first place. We hope to continue to get breezy days with sunshine because these conditions are prime for pecan pollination. It will be around mid June or so before we get a true idea of this years crop. Nuts that were not pollinated and some nuts that were self pollinated will drop during the second nut drop which will occur sometime during the month of June.