Orchard owners interested in pecan cultivation will have an opportunity to learn starting with the Arkansas Pecan Growers Association annual education meeting and farm tour Saturday, May 5, at Lonoke.

The meeting will be held at Grateful Acres Pecan Orchard and will be presented by the APGA and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, according to a news release.

U.S. pecan production grew three percent to more than 277 million pounds last year, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

In terms of consumer preference, pecans ranked third behind almonds and walnuts, according to the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Pecans are an Arkansas staple, gaining popularity as a commercial crop,” said Jackie Lee, extension horticulture-integrated pest management specialist for the Division of Agriculture. “Commercial production of this perennial crop requires specialized knowledge, skills and equipment. Pecan school will help beginning growers navigate orchard management.”

The May 5 meeting covers orchard establishment, pecan scab management and food safety regulations. Other topics will include integrated pest management, fertility management, equipment needs and pecan varieties.

The session is the first in the series of educational events for the Arkansas Pecan School, which will hold gatherings during the growing season to address time-specific production practices, according to the release.

The fee to attend all pecan school sessions is $150, which includes membership in the Arkansas Pecan Growers Association and attendance at APGA annual meeting. The fee for current members is $75. The registration fee includes lunch and educational materials.

The pecan school will have three follow-up sessions through the growing season, all at Lonoke.

They are: June 26 – Early Season Pecan School, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Grateful Acres; Aug. 7 – Midseason Pecan School, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lonoke County Extension Office; 1-3 p.m. Grateful Acres; Oct. 4 – Late-Season Pecan School, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lonoke County Extension Office; 1-3 p.m. Grateful Acres.

For details on the school email mjbrown@uaex.edu, jalee@uaex.edu or call 501-671-2243. To learn more about commercial horticulture, contact a county extension office or visit www.uaex.edu.