Of course the obvious in our situation is preventing soil erosion. I see orchards throughout this area that are tilled and the most noticeable difference between those and our orchard is the exposure of tree roots, a sure sign of ongoing soil erosion, or more aptly called in west Texas, 'soil displacement.' Orchard tilling also runs the risk of feeder root damage. A tilled orchard is an open invitation to a host of insects, including the most feared in the pecan industry, the pecan weevil, who resides in the soil during the winter and comes out to spread its damage to your trees just as soon as...you till in the spring? I could ramble on about the till or no-till controversy, but I think I'll end it with "WHY?" I suspect it is the farmer in them...they just feel the need to 'go plow something.'
I receive this question quite often since we also maintain a small herd of goats. Can goats be used in the pecan orchard. This subject is covered in more detail in our Miscellaneous Section, but I cautiously answer 'yes' if you maintain control. Goats are an excellent form of weed control, however, they prefer to eat the leaves on your tree. Old billy goat will rub his horns on your tree trunk, and could rub the bark off the tree, which will result in death to your tree. Goats love pecans even more than pecan leaves, so they most certainly need to be removed from the orchard prior to nut drop.
If you have a young orchard with lots of 'wasted space' between rows, it is feasible to plant a ground crop of hay grass or something similar. Some pecan producers plant legumes in their orchard to provide a natural source of nitrogen, but we must keep in mind that other crops will tend to compete for water and will provide a breeding ground for insects.
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