The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the Texas Pecan Growers Association, TPGA, will hold the first of 12 Pecan Listening Sessions March 28 in Smithville. The collaboration is designed to uncover pecan growers’ attitudes, perceptions and needs.
Pecan growers across Texas are invited to participate in the “town hall-style” listening sessions, which will be hosted in diverse cities across the pecan growing areas through July.
The first session will be from 4-6 p.m. at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall, 557 N.W. Loop 230.
“We simply want to meet with pecan growers in or near their home communities, talk with them about what they’re facing, and hear about their successes, challenges and needs,” said Monte Nesbitt, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension specialist in horticulture, Bryan-College Station, and lead contributor to the project for Texas A&M AgriLife.
Pecan growers in Texas of any size orchard and any aligned businesses are invited to attend one of the 11 regional meetings starting in Bastrop County and concluding June 8 in El Paso County. The 12th listening session will coincide with the TPGA annual conference in Denton on July 30.
“These will not be typical AgriLife Extension pecan meetings,” Nesbitt said. “Yes, we will attempt to answer questions about pecan growing if folks have them, but this is about us listening carefully and critically to grower opinions on where the legacy of pecan growing stands right now. We all want to keep it standing.”
TPGA received a 2022 Specialty Crop Block Grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture to critically assess the Texas pecan industry’s economic development and sustainability through a series of survey-based projects.
TPGA partnered with Nesbitt; Larry Stein, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension horticulture specialist, Uvalde; and Amit Dhingra, Ph.D., head of the Department of Horticultural Sciences in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Bryan-College Station, to engage the pecan growing community with three fact finding assessments.
The components of the assessments are:
- In-person listening sessions that will uncover grower attitudes, perceptions and needs.
- A crop cycle survey focused on crop management and production problems.
- A mixed-mode quantitative survey of Texas pecan growers that will define demographic and geographic influences on scope and health.
Nesbitt said the outcomes of the assessments will raise awareness of the current condition of pecans as a specialty crop industry in Texas, identify research and AgriLife Extension priorities, and define critical needs for sustainability and growth of pecan production in Texas.
Pecans in Texas
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the pecan acreage in Texas declined 17.5% from 1997 to 2017, while acreage increased 7% nationally.
“Over the past 20 years, total utilized pecan production in Texas reached 50 million pounds just three times, but in four years over that same timespan, pecan production in Texas was less than 25 million pounds per year, revealing the alternate bearing habit of pecan trees as well as the challenges that Texas pecan growers have faced from weather and pests in that time,” Nesbitt said.
The listening session meeting dates, pecan growing regions and cities are as follows:
- March 28, Lower Colorado River, Smithville.
- April 5, Gulf Coast, Wharton.
- April 11, Guadalupe Valley, Seguin.
- April 18, East Texas, Palestine.
- April 24, Wintergarden-South Texas, Uvalde.
- May 2, High Plains, Lubbock.
- May 9, Concho Valley, San Angelo.
- May 16, Central Texas, Goldthwaite.
- May 23, North Central-Red River, Bowie.
- June 6, West Texas, Fort Stockton.
- June 7/8, El Paso Valley, Fabens.
- July 30, TPGA Conference, Denton.
Specific meeting times and exact locations for each of the regional sessions can be found on the TPGA website as further details are confirmed. If additional information is needed, contact the TPGA office at 979-846-3285 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.