Charles Rohla Raising Noble Research Institute Up as a Leader Within the American Pecan IndustryTue, 20 Aug 2019 12:49:07 CDT
The Noble Research Institute has been involved in pecan research since 1975, when the then called organization, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, acquired its Red River Farm. Over the past several years though, Charles Rohla, Noble’s pecan and specialty agriculture systems manager, says that the pecan has made its way to the forefront of Noble’s work. In an interview with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays at annual meeting of the American Pecan Council, Rohla talked about the nut’s recent proliferation across the Southern Plains and across the entire nation. You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
According to Rohla, the NRI’s efforts in the pecan industry are complete cooperator driven and focused on providing the greatest impact back to producers.
“Our work that we’re doing has impact to a grower eventually. Hopefully not a hundred years out, but within the next 10 or 20 years,” he said, remarking on some of the key areas Noble’s researchers are studying. “We’re really focusing a lot on pecan scab. One of our researchers has made huge discoveries over the last couple years. She contends that if we can ever identify the mating scab in the orchard - that would change the whole industry in how we manage.”
In fact, Rohla says Noble’s commitment to pecan research is so great, that an entire research team is being built to explore the pecan’s full potential in relation to genetics and root systems and how they can impact overall production. This effort has generated much excitement from Noble’s research team and enjoys the full support of the organization’s leadership and board, according to Rohla. Not only is Noble expanding its research efforts, it is also putting greater emphasis on its producer outreach and education initiatives to help share their discoveries.
“For Noble, education is key. The more we can educate people, the better off we are as consultants or researchers,” Rohla said. “We are taking a big lead into the education effort. How a student would go through school… we’re trying to take a producer through that same progression from very basic to very advanced and hopefully at the end they can have a certification where that would help them start an orchard.”
Rohla also says that Noble is well-situated to help producers and the industry being in the very heart of pecan country. While pecans are grown across the nation, he explains that from a production standpoint, Oklahoma and Texas are well-suited for growing pecans and offer tremendous opportunity for farmers and ranchers to supplement their operations. According to his own research, Rohla says there have been years in the past when producers could have made more profit on pecan production on per acre basis than they could have with cattle.
“Oklahoma actually has the highest percentage of native pecans Our production is over 80% native,” he said. “If we could ever get people that have substantial numbers of natives on their property to start managing them - Oklahoma could increase its production by probably 10 to 20 million lbs… almost double our production just by managing what already exists.”
Given the work and interest that continues to build upon itself, Rohla has great expectations for Noble’s influence and contribution to the pecan industry.
“My vision,” he declared, “is for Noble to become the central place for pecan information across the US and hopefully across the world.”
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