Georgia Pecan Growers Are All in on Smart Apply. Are Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Oklahoma Growers Next?

Georgia pecan growers know a good thing when they see it. Since the Smart Apply Intelligent Spray Control System was introduced in 2019, Georgia pecan growers have been quick to adopt the precision spray and data system that reduces chemical use and costs by an average of 50%, reduces labor costs, and digitally documents each spray event.

Demand for the Smart Apply System – which is sold as a kit and can be added to virtually any air blast sprayer – has been so strong, Smart Apply recently added a second dealer, Lasseter Tractor, to help satisfy demand across Georgia. Lasseter joins Flint Ag & Turf as the only authorized Smart Apply System dealers in the state.

There are a number of reasons the Smart Apply System is a must-have addition to Georgia growers’ spraying operations; we’ll get to that in a minute. The big question is: 

Will Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arizona pecan growers be next?

In May, Pecan South Magazine shared the USDA’s report for the 2023 pecan crop. U.S. growers produced a total of 306.75 million pounds of pecans last year. Georgia held onto the number one position, but just barely, reporting 108 million pounds of pecans harvested. Nipping at their heels was New Mexico, with 107.5 million pounds. In third place was Arizona with 42.3 million pounds and Texas coming in at 30.8 million pounds. Oklahoma was number five with 18.1 million pounds.

Georgia Pecan Growers Association trade mission to India. Pecan Nation’s new “snackable” packaging.

The pecan industry has faced headwinds in recent years due to tariffs on exports, most notably by China. Other pressures are consistent with the pain felt across other ag sectors: increasing chemical and fuel costs, labor shortages, and high interest rates making capital investments more costly.

However, the pecan industry remains optimistic and has been aggressively courting other international trading partners, most notably India but also South Korea. The South Georgia Pecan Company recently traveled to Seoul for a trade show. The industry is also expanding its positioning from pecans being a seasonal and largely sweet treat – think pecan pie, chocolate-covered pecans and pralines – to a healthy snack rich in minerals like copper, zinc, manganese, and iron. See complete nutritional profile here.

Growers themselves have become more sophisticated in their marketing, positioning and packaging. As an example, Pecan Nation has cracked the nut and gone direct to consumer with a “delicious, nutritious and versatile super nut” positioning coupled with grab and go packaging popular with specialty food shops, airports and convenience stores, and their own online store. Other growers are following suit much to the delight of specialty retailers.

Lastly, growers are continuing to put in new orchards in areas like South Georgia and New Mexico.

Still, the pressure remains on pecan growers to control input costs, reduce water use in some areas, increase automation, and implement more sustainable farming practices. In a highly competitive crop sector like pecans, Southwestern growers will be looking to Georgia and its penchant for precision spraying and the impact Smart Apply technology is having on efficiency, profitability and sustainability.

So why have Georgia pecan growers embraced the Smart Apply System?

Smart Apply’s first customer in Georgia was Tim Sikes, who owns a smaller orchard. He was searching for a more efficient, cost-effective way to spray and found the Smart Apply System on YouTube. He purchased a system and had it installed on his existing air blast sprayer. The chemical savings began immediately.  Now in his fourth season with the Smart Apply System, he encourages other growers to add them to their sprayers. “Why would you not use it,” he says. See Tim’s story in his words here.

Georgia pecan grower Tim Sikes added a Smart Apply System to his sprayer, gaining a 45% reduction in chemical use.

News of Tim’s positive experience spread quickly among neighboring pecan growers, acquaintances at the Georgia Pecan Growers Association and those he invited to his orchard to see the Smart Apply System in action. Among the converts was Nilo Plantation, which sustained incredible damage from a hurricane followed by a tornado. Decades old trees were destroyed. Undeterred, Nilo planted young replacement trees among the giants.

The Smart Apply System was a Godsend to Nilo Plantation thanks to the system’s LiDAR that automatically senses and sprays each nozzle section of individual trees based on size and foliage density. In an orchard with a mix of tree sizes, conventional air blast spraying would have been a huge waste of chemicals. Smart Apply’s precision spraying optimized protection to each tree, saved a tremendous amount on chemicals and avoided the potential damages of  over spraying. Smart Apply also kitted out a tandem sprayer for Nilo  Plantation designed to reach tops of 60- to 70-foot trees. Learn more about Nilo Plantation here.

Georgia’s Nilo Plantation post tornado. Recovering pecan orchard two years later.

Smart Apply is also proving very effective for new orchards, again because of the ability to spray individual trees and stop spraying when nothing is sensed and without operator intervention. The system also automatically does tree counts, documents tree health plus the amount of chemicals and water used. Because spraying is automated, the pressure is off operators, making night spraying much easier and avoiding unintended errors such as missed rows or double spraying. 

Another plus for Georgia pecan growers is strong support from Smart Apply engineers and technicians and local dealer Flint Ag & Turf. Early on, Flint committed precision ag technical resources to Smart Apply and its pecan grower customers. These resources provide installations on new and used air blast sprayers and on-call technical support. Flint’s Alan Martin explains their success in this video

Lassiter Tractor is Smart Apply’s newest authorized dealer in Georgia, expanding the local support network to pecan growers across South Georgia from six locations. 

Smart Apply’s authorized dealers in Georgia

At this spring’s annual Georgia Pecan Growers Association conference, one grower told Smart Apply, “Why argue with your chemical salesperson for a 5% discount when you can get a 40-50% reduction in chemical cost with Smart Apply?” Why indeed.

Smart Apply now has two dedicated regional sales managers for the Southwest 

Pecans are an important crop category for Smart Apply, which was designed and field tested for more than a decade as a precision ag solution for tree nuts and fruits, grapes, hops, and nurseries. Sold as a kit compatible with virtually any air blast sprayer, GUSS autonomous sprayer and over-the-row sprayer, growers can add a Smart Apply System to an existing sprayer, which many opt to do, or to a new sprayer.

Smart Apply has two regional sales directors supporting the U.S. pecan industry:

LEFT: Smart Apply pecan experts. Kirk Bailey supports GA, OK, SC, TX. RIGHT: Noah Sanders supports AZ, NM.

Kirk and Noah serve as an expert resource to pecan growers as well as other high-value crops and to authorized Smart Apply dealers. 

It is important to note that Smart Apply is a John Deere Company. This gives pecan growers access to financing new Smart Apply Systems through John Deere Financial, integrating Smart Apply System data with the John Deere Operations Center for additional analytics, and other John Deere precision ag services and equipment.

Smart Apply will be exhibiting at the Texas Pecan Growers Association conference in July

For the first time in the company’s history, Smart Apply is exhibiting at the Texas Pecan Growers Association’s Conference and Trade Show July 14-17 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in San Marcos. Kirk Bailey is representing Smart Apply at our booth and is available throughout the event for conversations about individual pecan grower needs. 

If you’re attending, be on the lookout for the “Ring of Fire,” a display that simulates the LiDAR-powered precision spraying of the Smart Apply System. And Kirk will have plenty of videos to share of Smart Apply in pecan and other orchards. You can also reach out to Kirk or Noah at any time.

Pecans are America’s only native nut and Smart Apply is American-made, tested and proven. The success Georgia pecan growers are having with the system speaks volumes on how it improves operations, profitability, and sustainability of the pecan industry. If you’re a pecan grower, please visit our website to learn more or start a conversation by emailing us at, which takes you directly to our CEO. Looking forward to connecting – in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Oklahoma!

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