Last year, Dixie Jordan-Coats started Nutty Acres Pecan Orchards with plans to pass it on to the next generation.
Recently, Jordan-Coats discussed how she did it during a workshop, hosted by Sampson County Cooperative Extension. It’s focus was on small scale production for the future. The gathering featured several presenters who spoke about topics related to production. Some of the topics included marketing, record keeping, pest control and growing techniques.
“There’s so much we need to learn,” Jordan-Coats said. “We’re all learning together, we’re all young tree growers here.”
Jordan-Coats created the farm with her husband Tommy and hopes that her granddaughter Jayna Jones becomes involved in the future.
Extension officials scheduled a field tour of the farm, but that portion of the workshop was cancelled because of weather conditions. The farm was started with the assistance of the extension office and Dr. Joshua Idassi, an extension specialist from North Carolina A&T State University. Jordan-Coats encouraged residents to take advantage of opportunities such as grants.
“People need to to get involved with any kind of business that deals with food and our environment,” Jordan-Coats said. “I encourage people to take advantage of the cooperative extension service in their counties because they have so much knowledge and they’re there to educate.”
In the future, Idassi discussed the possibility of introducing programs to teach attendees about producing livestock on a small scale in regards to a forage system. James Hartsfield, area extension agent for small farms management, said there’s a lot of interest in growing pecans, which may result in profit for the extension office.
Making profits was something stressed by Elbie Powers, a representative for the NC Pecan Growers Association. He made a presentation about growing in the state, demands for pecans, which are usually September or October and other technical aspects such as proper soil.
“You got to put some work into it,” Powers said.
Some of his work included picking up an abundance of pecans using equipment and a backpack blower to separate leaves from the nuts under the tree. A chicken under the tree is also good to get rid of pests such as larvae. Cats can also help keep away squirrels and mice.
During his presentation, he advised potential growers to avoid placing trees in a “false spring,” a period of weather in late winter or early spring, which may trick dormant vegetation into waking up early.
Idassi discussed agroforestry and his work in the subject through NC A&T State University. The purpose of the method is to combine agriculture and trees to create a sustainable farming system.
“Something that is sustainable is something that can stay in the future,” Idassi said.
Along with the benefits of alley cropping (planting in multiple rows), Idassi talked about the importance of marketing and the benefits of growing crops like pecans.
“Out there in the marketplace, people are looking for nutritional food that can help them,” Idassi said.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.