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Joe Ballou within 3.25 pounds of pecan record

One hundred pounds of kernels from two Rives Kerbow trees would far eclipse previous record for his trees, and he thinks it would be a record for Adair County
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By Ed Waggener

Joe Ballou says that he has now shelled 96.75 pounds of pecans from two of his trees this year. "That will be a record for Adair County," I believe. One hundred pounds of pecans kernels from two trees is one he set, an arbitrary figure, he admits--but an honorable and monumental one, too.

With pecans selling in the supermarket for as much as $12 a pound in cans, that would give this year's harvest from his Old Springfield Road farm in District 6 of Adair County a street value of over $1200.

"I've said for years that if a person had 100 pecan trees they could make a good living," he said. At $600 per tree, that would be $60,000 from 100 pecan trees. That's optimistic math, of course, and it would work out like that, but there would still be a sizable income.

Ballou says he's still hopeful the tree will yield the other 2.5 pounds. "There're there," he said, "they just haven't fallen down yet."

Bought trees from Rives Kerbow's Columbia Nursery

The trees are two of four he bought from the late Rives Kerbow at the Columbia Nursery at the corner of Greensburg and Marshall Streets.

That was in 1965, and it took until about 1980 for the trees to start bearing. Now they are producing greater and greater yields.

Shelling the pecans hasn't been easy. "I've worn off the fingerprints on four fingers and my thumbs," he said.

But he thinks it's been worth the effort.

One of his plans for the shelled pecans is to barter them with widow women he knows. "I've already had three of them offer to bake the pies on shares," he said. "I'll furnish the pecans and the pie shells," he said, "and they'll bake the pies and then we'll split them. Every time they bake two pies," he said, "I'll get one and they'll get one."This has been an unusually good years for pecans. His previous record? Just 35 pounds of kernels from the same two trees. That's why he thinks 100 pounds would definitely go into the World Record Book of Guinesses for the most ever to come from two pecan trees in Adair County.

This story was posted on 2009-01-18 09:28:37
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Hershey, the Great Chocolate Lab has prospered at farm, too

2009-01-18 - Old Springfield Road, - Photo by Ed Waggener.
HERSHEY, the great chocolate lab, has prospered since coming to Joe Ballou's farm three years ago. She eats well, and performs important duties: She's an excellent alarm dog. She works at Joe's side when he gathers pecans, and when he ricks firewood, she ricks too--in her own woodpile.

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Joe Ballou with a basic tool: pecan nut cracker

2009-01-18 - Old Springfield Road, District 6, Adair Co., KY - Photo By Ed Waggener.
JOE BALLOU's pecan operation wouldn't be nearly so fast without his handy dandy Duke Pecan Nut Cracker. Using it, he can crack about four-five pounds of pecans in about 20 minutes, he says. The little device only cracks the shells. He has to extract the kernels and clean them, which takes another one hour per pound. Mr. Ballou likes the little device so well he keeps two more as back up. He got the tools at Southern States in Columbia, he said. The crackers get a little technical; there's some expertise to operating them. The cracker has to be adjusted for different sizes of nuts.

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Two two-tree sets are in rotation

2009-01-18 - Old Springfield Road, District 6, Adair County, KY - Photo by Ed Waggener.
Joe Ballou calls for Hershey to come help in the bean field, now planted in winter wheat. The high bearing pecan trees in the background, the four boles to the right of the utility pole, are planted in rotation. The larger trees were bought in 1965 from Columbia Nursery Company and are now at or near their peak bearing phase. Some years from now, Joe plans to take out the larger trees and give room to the smaller ones. The larger tree on the left produces nuts from two varieties. One is an oval nut, the other is a Posey round pecan. .

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Going for another record: The longest grapevine

2009-01-18 - Old Springfield Road, District 6, Adair County, KY - Photo by Ed Waggener.
This MIRACLE PURPLE GRAPEVINE, once thought to have been killed by a pesticide spray a few years ago, is coming back. This isn't related to the pecans, exactly, but it's something Joe Ballou is proud of. As it came back, from its roots by the light pool at his tool shed, he started training it to go around his huge tractor shed. On the right, he looks down the back side of the building, and describe how he'll keep it going to the other end. "Maybe another record," he says.

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