Riverine silvopastoral practices with native pecan (Carya illinoinensis) are a suitable land use for areas subjected to seasonal flooding in southern and central regions of the United States. Nut, timber and forage production, and the economics of managed pecan silvopastures were examined in southeastern Kansas. During 1981–2000, annual hulled nut production varied between 50 and 1600 kg ha−1 in stands averaging 72 years of age, and ranging in density between 35 and 74 trees ha−1. The nut crop had a pattern of biennial bearing with some exceptions. Tree stem diameter and stand basal area increased linearly with time. Nut production was not related to stand age or tree density, however, suggesting that nut production had reached a steady state level. Merchantable timber yield ranged between 0.25 and 1.35 m3 ha−1 year−1. In pecan silvopastures with a mean tree age of 37 years, forage production varied between 1500 and 4600 kg DM ha−1 in 2001 and 2002. In 2001 only, grass production decreased with decreasing solar radiation within the range of 0.25–0.83 of fraction light transmitted. In both years, the grass understory had acceptable quality for cow-calf production with average crude protein content between 9 and 11.8%, and no evidence of excessive levels of ergoalkaloids from tall fescue. Twenty-seven vascular plants were identified in the understory of which nut sedge (Cyperus esculentus), tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea), wild oat (Avena fatua) and Canadian wild rye (Elymus canadensis) were the most abundant. Economic simulations obtained with the U.S. Agroforestry Estate Model indicated that pecan nut price is the main variable driving economic outputs under current production conditions. Annual cash flows from nut sales had smaller fluctuations than nut yields because of an inverse relation between nut price and yield. Improved timber production appears an option for increasing profitability of pecan silvopastures.
Agroforestry estate model Carya illinoinensis Economic analysis Understory diversity