What does it mean if a food product is labeled as “Organic”?
In 2002, the US House and Senate passed the National Organic Program (NOP) legislation and today we have one set of standards that governs the labeling of food as “Organic”. The NOP controls the practices and materials that farmers use to produce “Organic” food. The NOP is largely based on the state programs that existed in California, Oregon, and Vermont. We use a third-party certifying agency to verify that our materials and methods meet the USDA National Organic Program’s (NOP) standards.
Who certifies your pecans as “Organic”?
Americert International inspects Rio Grande Organics’ orchards annually. Americert provides organic certification for producers, processors, and handlers. Additionally, because we are a fully certified organic orchard, we’re subject to unannounced audits by the USDA.
How does a pecan orchard become “Organic”?
The transition from conventional to a certified organic orchard is a three-year process using only organic methods. During this time we cannot use chemical fertilizer in our orchards. We use a combination of liquid chicken manure, ground rock, and dried seaweed. Furthermore, we do not spray chemical pesticides; instead we use naturally occurring bacteria, plant oils, and other materials that are derived from plants.
How many acres of pecan trees do you farm?
We currently have 1,600 acres of mature trees, producing pecans (33,000 trees).
How large are your pecan nuts?
Our orchard consists of three main varieties of hybrid, paper-shell pecans : Wichita, Cheyenne, and Western. After harvest, we ship our nuts to a Certified Organic shelling plant. Most of the pecans produced in the shelling process grade out as Mammoth and Junior Mammoth halves. Mammoth is the largest USDA grade of pecan halve, and it means that one pound of halves will contain 250 or less pieces.
How do you control damaging insects?
For years farmers all over the world have had to battle insects that would otherwise destroy crops. We use a wide variety of natural substances, including bacteria, and different methods to control insect damage. As a result, we create an environment where good insects, like the lady beetle and the green lacewing, can thrive and eat the bad, or damaging, insects.
How old are your trees?
Our trees were planted in the mid 70’s, making them around 45 years old. A pecan tree can live well past one hundred years. Interestingly, a promoter selling young trees as an income producer planted our trees. Alas, most pecan trees do not produce until they are nine years old, and most of the early investors lost interest in their agricultural holdings.
Where do pecans grow?
The pecan tree is native to the midsection of the United States. The first explorers to the new world found the tree growing in the rich, alluvial flood plains of our major rivers. The Mississippi, Missouri, and Rio Grande all had native populations of pecan trees.
Do you process or flavor your nuts in any way?
Our nuts are all natural. We gather the nuts from the trees, crack the nuts to separate the halves (meat) from the shell. We do not roast, salt, or artificially flavor our pecans. Give them a try today!
Can you make a lot of money growing pecans?
Because this question comes up so often we decided to finally address it. The short answer is No. It’s unlikely that Warren Buffet will be knocking on our door anytime soon with a congratulatory grin. Not all benefits in this world can be accumulated in a bank account. Besides, if we were in it to get rich we’d do something respectable; like run a hedge fund, day trade, or go to law school.