Categories: Farm Valuations, SA Valuer Blog545 words2.1 min read

Buying a Farm – a Valuer’s perspective | Growing a valuable pecan nut orchard Part 1


December 7, 2022


Background and the South African market

The pecan nut (Carya illinoinensis) is indigenous to North America, where it grows wild along the Gulf of Mexico and around the Great Lakes. The pecan nut tree can produce even when very old. There are 400-year-old trees in Mexico still bearing nuts.

The Chinese began buying pecans in 2004. Consumption skyrocketed three years later, thanks to a global walnut shortage and a record pecan harvest. Since then consumption has more than doubled. More than 90% of the South African crop goes to China.

South Africa has a long history of pecan production which gradually shifted westwards as the industry grew. More than 90% of all new plantings are now established in the drier Western Climate.

The largest plantings today exist in the Vaalharts region, with the small hamlet Tadcaster as the Pecan Capital of South Africa (Pecan History – Pecans South Africa). As the industry matures growers start planting the right cultivars for the right reasons.

The South African pecan industry is in the early stages of putting together a broader marketing program designed to address the anticipated increase in the South African production. The shelling industry in South Africa is not much to speak of and most export of pecans is “nut-in shell” product.

Factors that affect Pecan nut land values

Crop type – Grapes vs. Pecans
Age – production maturity: 2nd Year vs. 15th Year
Cultivar choice – Wichita vs. Mahaan

Plant population / spacing:

10m x 5 m equals 200 trees / Ha
8m x 5 m equals 250 trees / Ha
6m x 6 m equals 277 trees / Ha

Suitability for an area:

Climate is probably the single most important factor that determines whether a particular crop, such as Pecans, is adapted in an area and produces well. It is not only the temperature, but also rain, humidity, hail and wind that play a role.

Condition of the orchard:

The extent of missing plants influences the value of an orchard by influencing the production of an orchard. An orchard with a poor plant population cannot have the same value as an orchard where almost no plants are missing.

The soil:

Pecan nut trees do well in a well-drained deep soil with a medium texture. The alluvial soils along rivers are excellent for pecan nut trees, provided the permanent water level is at least 5 m or more below the soil surface to ensure good drainage. Clay content preferably not more than 35%, but is best above 10%. Very clayey or sandy soils have limitations in respect of water supply. No restricting layers should be present in the top 3 m of soil.

Pests and diseases:

Scab is the main disease that affects pecan nuts. It is a fungal disease (Cladosporium cayigenium), curbed by planting resistant cultivars and avoiding areas with a humidity above 50% for long periods. The disease can also be kept under control with a fungicide spray programme.

Two pests that can influence the value of a pecan nut orchard are the pecan stem borer and the bark borer. Both pests can be controlled by chemical spraying directly in the infested area and, in the case of partly bored stems, by a parasitic wasp. (Joubert, 2008.)

*This article was originally published on the Farmer’s Weekly website

** Extract of a presentation prepared by Lyndon Storer, Nedbank Ltd Regional Valuer, used with permission**

Rumpff Kruger
Rumpff KrugerProfessional Valuer