K-State Research and Extension News
September 11, 2013
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2013 Fall Forestry Field Day to be Held in Pecan Country

McCUNE, Kan. – The 2013 Fall Forestry Field Day will be held on October 10, 2013 in Labette County, one of the top pecan-producing counties in Kansas. 

Commercial pecan production in Kansas is based on the harvesting of the native pecan trees that grow in the flood plains of major rivers.  There are an estimated 8,500 acres of pecan trees in Kansas, and the state contributes one percent of the U.S. pecan production. 

The purpose of the Kansas Forest Service field day is to provide landowners, ranchers, farmers and natural resource professionals the opportunity to receive expert advise on the cultivation and management of Kansas forests, woodlands and related natural resources.

The field day will begin with an overview of the location, a 280-acre tree farm owned and operated by Bill Devlin.  In 2012, Katy Dhungel, Kansas Forest Service district forester, certified Devlin’s woodlands as meeting the standards of sustainability required by the American Tree Farm System.

A native of Cherokee County, Devlin’s father purchased the 280-acre farm in 1960 for $30 an acre.  Devlin has been harvesting pecans since he was seven years old and inherited the property in 1977.  He is experienced in the horticultural surgery called grafting and has improved pecan cultivars, which can be observed throughout the property. 

Recently, Devlin planted two acres of black walnut and pecan trees and is also releasing pole-sized pecan and walnut trees from competing lower quality trees.  He encourages native pecan production and harvests nuts annually.

A unique thing about Devlin’s operation is that he has found a way to create multiple incomes from the same piece of land.  Devlin harvested the timber on his property about 15 years ago and had another recent harvest in 2011, selling an estimated 7,000 board–feet of saw logs.  He also creates additional income from 33 productive oil wells on the property that are maintained by Sirius Petroleum and by leasing hunting rights.

Other issues to be covered at the field day are:

  • A grafting demonstration will be given by Aaron Sterling, who has learned the skill first-hand from Devlin.
  • Bill Reid, K-State Research and Extension, Pecan Experiment Field, and nationally recognized expert in pecan management, will present a session on pecan plantation management and best-performing cultivars. 
  • Local pecan grower, Tom Circle, will provide a pecan tree “shaker” demonstration to show how pecans are collected during harvest. 
  • Kansas Forest Service foresters will discuss how and when to release quality trees within woodlands to maintain forest health. 
  • Jake Weber, K-State Research and Extension horticulturalist for the Wildcat District, will offer an update on diagnosing common insect and disease problems and how to control them. 
  • Mike Simon, the Hunting Lease Network will explain to landowners how they can create additional income through the development of hunting lease agreements. 
  • Water quality and quantity are significant issues for the people of Kansas.  Doug Blex, coordinator for the Middle Neosho Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy group (WRAPS) will share information about how stakeholders are addressing concerns within the watershed.  
  • Jim Strickland, a local contractor, will demonstrate a mechanical tree shear to maintain healthy grasslands and keep unwanted woody encroachment from taking over.

State forester Larry Biles will present the 2013 Forest Stewardship Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Award to John Head, a Neosho County tree farmer. John Floros, director of K-State Research and Extension and Dean of the College of Agriculture at Kansas State University, will also attend the field day to celebrate diversity and sustainability of Kansas forestry.

A hot lunch will be provided as part of the $15 registration fee.  Registration and a brochure about the field day are available on the Kansas Forest Service website by clicking on News & Events and Events Calendar.  Registration information also may be obtained by calling the Kansas Forest Service office at 785-532-3300. 


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by: Kaitlin Morgan
K-State Research & Extension News

Robert Atchison - atchison@ksu.edu - 785-532-3305