March/April 2024 - 16

Hedging against storms
" We've found that when you let the root system catch
up with the canopy of the tree, it withstands higher winds, "
Leger said. " We want to bring the canopy down, making
the tree turn into a bush more. It's fruiting more, so we're
getting more yields to the acre by hedging. "
Pecan growers hedge on a three-year program. The
cutting crew hedges the top left side of one row of trees,
cutting at 45-degree angles, then hedges the other side.
The following year, another third of the orchard is hedged
followed by the other third the third year.
Growers can expect a yield loss after the first hedging,
and expect to clean up wood during the initial hedging.
However, once a grower gets into the program, because
it's new growth being hedged every three years, there isn't
as much wood to cut. In the past, the practice wasn't as
common for Georgia pecans. Leger & Son began hedging
pecan trees in 2020.
In the last 15 years, Leger & Son has focused on soil
monitoring and ensuring trees receive adequate nutrition.
" A lot of farmers have really been studying and
managing harder, making sure they have happy plants and
trees, " Leger said. " When you start getting weak plants, it's
like the insects can smell it. When you have nice, strong
plants, you don't have as much predatorial pressure
from insects. "
In the summer when harvesting watermelons, Leger &
Son deploys full-time labor in the orchard, performing
foliar leaf samples, monitoring soil moisture and staying
on spray and fungicide schedules as well as checking for
nutrient deficiencies.
" You want your pH levels to be perfect, " Leger said.
" If your pH is not where it needs to be, if you need NPK
(nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) and don't have your
pH right, it's not making that plant, it's not making that in
the soil and is not making it readily available so the plant
can take it up. "
Left: Greg Leger inspects pecans. Leger & Son has been
growing pecans and watermelons for almost 60 years.
Right: Cole Leger is in field operations.
Avoiding 'unforced errors'
A key part of Leger & Son's success is avoiding mistakes.
" No self-inflicted problems are the ultimate goal, " Leger
said. " In the last 15 years, farming is more risky. I've seen the
sloppy growers go by the wayside. I don't mean that in a bad
way, as I could go by the wayside with one hurricane. "
Today's farming practices have evolved into precision
ag, he said.
" You have to dot every 'i' and cross every 't' and manage
as best as you can with the least amount of waste, " Leger
said. " You cannot cut corners and you can still get your butt
kicked. Not doing things properly the first time, having to
go back and do them again, drives me crazy. Self-inflicted
wounds are the worst. "
After leaving the Navy, Charles M. " Buddy " Leger worked
for years as a USDA inspector in south Georgia, grading
peanuts and other commodities before managing the
Cordele State Farmers Market. In 1965, he started growing
and shipping watermelons and also planted pecan trees
on his father's farm. Buddy established a buying point for
watermelons and pecans.

March/April 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of March/April 2024

Editor's Letter
The blight phase of Botryosphaeria diseases in nut crops of California
Tree nut outlook for 2024
From the top
Water stress
Buzz pollination
Hazelnut crop concerns
Almond Board of California
Ad Index
March/April 2024 - 1
March/April 2024 - 2
March/April 2024 - 3
March/April 2024 - Editor's Letter
March/April 2024 - 5
March/April 2024 - The blight phase of Botryosphaeria diseases in nut crops of California
March/April 2024 - 7
March/April 2024 - 8
March/April 2024 - 9
March/April 2024 - Tree nut outlook for 2024
March/April 2024 - 11
March/April 2024 - 12
March/April 2024 - 13
March/April 2024 - From the top
March/April 2024 - 15
March/April 2024 - 16
March/April 2024 - 17
March/April 2024 - Water stress
March/April 2024 - 19
March/April 2024 - Buzz pollination
March/April 2024 - 21
March/April 2024 - Hazelnut crop concerns
March/April 2024 - 23
March/April 2024 - Business
March/April 2024 - 25
March/April 2024 - Almond Board of California
March/April 2024 - Events
March/April 2024 - 28