Pecan Orchard Recharge

Pecan On-Farm-Recharge for Groundwater Recharge and Improved Water Quality. 2018 – 2021

Project Summary

Groundwater serves as an important resource for California populace and agriculture, constituting approximately 40% or more of the State’s total water supply. The lack of regulation on groundwater use has led to overdraft, further exacerbated by droughts. Groundwater usage is coming into a new light with implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014. SGMA requires medium to high priority critically over-drafted basins in California to attain sustainability by halting overdraft and bringing groundwater basins into balanced levels of pumping and recharge by 2040, 20 years after implementation of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan or alternative plan. The majority of critically over-drafted basins reside in the San Joaquin Valley, an extremely important agricultural region of California. This region exports an estimated annual $20 billion contributed to specialty crops of California.

This project aimed to study and integrate pecan agriculture as an On-Farm Recharge (OFR) SGMA compliance strategy to restore, protect and fortify groundwater resources while maintaining economic profit stability for agricultural regions. Field studies established best management practices for OFR on pecan orchards, with consideration to soil properties, hydrologic regimes, water quality and tree health. Agronomic and economic information was gathered to evaluate and assess cost-benefits for OFR implementation. Project was performed in close collaboration with area farms, Groundwater Sustainability Agencies, and SGMA stakeholders to ensure developed practices will meet SGMA requirements in a practical and adaptable manner.

Project Photos


  • Bachand & Associates, Costs and Practices to Establish and Produce Pecans Including On-Farm Recharge. Published September 2021. Available here.

    • An update to the 2005 pecan cost study produced by the University of California Cooperative Extension, this report serves to inform growers interested in potentially growing pecans and/or conducting on-farm recharge on their existing pecan orchards.

  • Bachand & Associates, Pecan Cultural Operations and OFR Planning, 2021. Available here.

    • Details the optimum months to conduct OFR on pecan orchards.

  • Pecan On-Farm Recharge (OFR) White Paper and Nut Grower Handbook. Published October 15, 2021. Available here.

    • Summarizes the finding of the OFR recharge study and provides guidance for nut growers in implementing OFR on their farms.


  • Bachand, S., King, B., Yaghmour, M., Royal, K. and Bachand P., On-Farm Recharge of pecan orchard to replenish groundwater: Two-year pilot study shows water can be recharged at a high rate without causing observable harm to tree health and yield. Pecan South Magazine. Published October 2021. Available at Pecan South Magazine.

    • Discusses results of the study, focusing on impacts to tree health and yield.

  • Bachand, S.; Royal, K.; Bachand, P., King, B. and Yaghmour, M., On-Farm Recharge: Lessons from a pilot study in pecans. West Coast Nut, 18-25. Published October 2021. Available at West Coast Nut.

    • Provides an overview of the project, highlighting lessons and results from the pilot study that are applicable to OFR on all nut orchards.

News Articles

  • Skernivitz, T., To the Water Wise: On-Farm Recharge a Solution for Nut Growers. Growing Produce. Published December 2021. Available at Growing Produce and as a pdf.

    • Highlights the lack of negative affects on-farm recharge has on health and yield of pecans.

  • Pollock, D., Pecan farmers test remedies to recharge aquifers. AgAlert. Published August 2021. Available at AgAlert (Subscription needed).

    • Highlights the work being done by pecan farmers to capture surface water in winter months to recharge underground aquifers.

  • Holtermann, J., Water recharge research shows potential. West Coast Nut. Published August 2019. Available at West Coast Nut and as a pdf.

    • Discusses the pilot study and it potential impacts for groundwater recharge.

On-Farm Recharge Webinar

    • Educational webinar hosted by the McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA) on July 22, 2021 to discuss how farmers can incorporate on-farm recharge practices into their farm operations.

Collaborating Organizations

University of California, Davis (UCD), University of California Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR), CA Pecan Growers Association, McMullin Area Groundwater Sustainability Agency (MAGSA)


Funding for this project was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant 18-0001-022-SC. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.