The pecan tree is a deciduous tree that is native to the Mississippi River Valley in the Southern United States and Northern Mexico. “Pecan” is an Algonquin word that refers to theeeds of hickory, walnut, and pecan trees. In the late 1800s, colonists started breeding pecan trees for commercial production.
Pecan trees are normally large, with a spread of around 75 feet, and they can grow up to 130 feet tall. They have an up-to 7-foot trunk diameter. The pinnate pecan leaves grow alternately on branches. The leaves are 2 to 4 inches long and an inch wide. The tree has a long taproot that reaches deep below the ground, with additional feeder roots that extend even further.
It takes at least five years for a tree to mature and produce pecans. Sometimes they need 7 years. They grow pecans every year from June to September, and they are harvested from October to December. Pecan trees are known to produce more fruit in alternate years in a process called alternate bearing. If there are fewer pecans, animals may eat them before humans have a chance to.
The inside of a pecan’s hard shell is where the nut is found. The fruit has a tough, green outer shell that opens as the fruit dries, exposing the inner shell, which is striped black and brown. This is where you’ll find the delicious nuts used in pecan pie, candied pecans, and pecan-crusted meats.
Pecans carry out cross-pollination via male and female flowers that grow on the same tree. The flowers that bloom on the new growth of a pecan tree are female, while the flowers that bloom on the branches from last year are male. Depending on the type of tree, the flowers that mature first are either female or male. Then they are pollinated by wind and bees. The best results and fruit-bearing trees will come from growing more than one tree in an area.
The Best Time To Plant Your Pecan Tree For Each Planting Method
One way to plant a pecan tree is by transplanting a bare root or container-grown tree. The best time of winter to plant will depend on the route you choose.
We should talk about the pros and cons of these two types of planting so that you can make the best decision for yourself!
Bare Root Planting
Pecan trees that have been harvested with their roots exposed are bare root trees. This means that their roots are not packed with soil when they are sent. Nursery grown trees that are one to three years old are typically bare-root.
Bare root transplants need to be kept moist while you have them, but you should plant them as soon as possible. The ideal time to plant a bare-root pecan tree is early in the planting season, between December and March, while the tree is dormant.
Container Grown Transplants
Container-grown transplants are better because they have all of their roots intact and are more hardy. The later transplanting season for containerized pecan trees extends until May.
It is better to plant container-grown plants early so that they have time to adjust to their new location before spring. This will reduce transplant shock and improve the plant’s chances of survival.
This will allow the roots to spread out and establish themselves more easily. Before planting your container-grown transplant, loosen up the root ball to allow the roots to spread out and establish themselves more easily. This will give the roots room to grow in all the directions they need to.
How To Plant Your Pecan Tree
Choose The Best Soil
If you want your young tree to do well, you need to start with good soil. Soil provides nutrients, helps with water absorption, and offers support to trees.
Be sure the soil for your pecan tree is:
- Free of weeds
Prepare your soil for planting by clearing it of any debris and weeds. Make sure the ground is even before planting your tree so it won’t be in a spot where water collects. First and foremost, you should have your soil tested to make sure it’s ideal.
The ideal soil pH for new pecan trees, according to The North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, is 6.0 to 6.5. If you’re unsure of how to check the pH level of your soil, you’re not the only one!
Actually Plant Your Pecan Tree
When digging the hole for your pecan tree, you will want to make the hole twice as wide as the root system and just as deep. When deciding how big to make the hole for your plant, take into account the roots’ horizontal and vertical lengths. The taproot should be placed at the bottom of the hole.
If it is possible, a good rule to follow is to try and plant your pecan tree at the same depth that it was in the nursery. Look for the soil line on your tree. If it matches the description, then it is that type of tree.
When planting more than one pecan tree, it is best to plant them at least 50 feet apart. This is because the roots of pecan trees grow very quickly. If two pecan trees are grown together, their roots will start to crowd each other within a short amount of time. The lateral roots of a fourth year old pecan tree are typically around double the size of the tree’s height.
Pecan trees need plenty of sunlight to produce a good crop and to stay healthy. If planted too closely, trees can shade each other and won’t get enough sunlight, which will damage the trees.
Things To Know About Pecan Tree Pollination
The pollination process of a pecan tree is fascinating! One pecan tree produces both male and female blossoms. The pollen from the male flowers needs to be transported to the female flowers to create fruits.
The male and female flowers are on the same tree, but they bloom at different times.
The female flower blooms at the end of the current season’s growth, while the male flower blooms at the end of the last season’s growth. The male flower produces catkins, and a lot of pollen is present on these catkins.
The wind moves the pollen from the catkins to the female flowers, allowing fertilization to happen.
How To Maintain Your Pecan Tree
You should set up your irrigation before planting so that your new tree will have a continuous water supply. Too much moisture can be problematic for young pecan trees.
Drip, micro-irrigation, or flood irrigation systems are great options for irrigating younger trees. These types of sprinkler systems help to keep the roots of young plants moist so that they can grow.
Remember that as the trees get bigger, they will need more water. A tree that is one year old will do well with 20-30 gallons of water in the hot month of July. A tree that is four years old will need 200-300 gallons in the same month.
The amount of water your pecan tree needs will vary depending on the area it’s in, the type of tree, and how well the water drains from the soil. Pecan trees generally need to be watered every three weeks during the cooler months. During the warmer months, it is best to water your lawn either once a week or every two weeks.
Weed control is just as important as proper planting and irrigation in order to have a healthy and flourishing garden. Pecan trees that are young cannot do well when competing against weeds, so it is important to get rid of the weeds right away.
Herbicides can help you manage the weeds around your pecan tree. Weeds come in different types, so you’ll need to figure out which type of herbicide to use. You may benefit from contacting a professional before using herbicides around your pecan trees to ensure proper application.
You can manage weeds without using herbicides. To discourage weeds around your pecan tree, keep the area around it mowed or lightly tilled. Some plants are better at competing against weeds than others. If you plant these kinds of plants, they will be more likely to crowd out the weeds.
Fertilizer can help your trees and plants to grow more healthily by providing them with extra nutrients. You should focus your fertilization efforts on a mature pecan tree rather than a young tree. Young trees don’t always need or respond to fertilizer.
The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture states that nitrogen and zinc are necessary for your pecan tree. You can use their pound-per-acre recommendations to make sure you’re using the right amount of fertilizer.
Pruning is an important part of proper tree maintenance. To encourage branching in a young pecan tree, prune the tips of the branches. You are only cutting off the tip of the branch when you prune it.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service suggests that you cut off about three to four inches from all growth in early March. Pruning all limbs beside the central leader in mid-summer will create a tip.
Lastly, it is suggested to leave the lower lateral branches on the tree until they reach an inch in diameter. After the plant has grown to the desired height, cut off the lower lateral branch until the central stem is about 9 feet tall.
Harvesting and Storing
Harvesting operations are the best part of growing pecan. There are methods for harvesting pecans from many trees for those in the pecan industry. However, lets discussion gathering nuts from pecan trees grown in someone’s home.
The leaves of pecans fall off just before the nuts drop. The green husks fall off and the pod dries until it pops open. The innermost part of the nut and the exterior shell are revealed. This means that finding the right pecans is the only difficult part of harvesting them. You’ll find it much harder to knock them down from the tree, especially when you’re competing with the height and nearby animals like squirrels, crows, and ravens.
Collect undamaged and recently dropped pecans. Hull any nuts with husks remaining. If the hull won’t come off easily, the tomato is probably not ripe yet. After you have collected the pecans, you need to cure them in an area with good air circulation and low light. Arrange the veggies in a single layer on the baking sheet or plastic lid. Place a small fan in the room and stir the air once a day. Ripe pecans easily separate from their inner shell.
One way to make pecans last longer is to store them in a jar or plastic freezer bag in the fridge or freezer. Pecans in their shells can last for two years or more. Shelled ones will keep for 1 year or more. You can keep some nearby in an airtight container for several months. Taste your pecans before adding them to dishes to make sure they are fresh.
Other animals are likely to be interested in the fruit as well because it is so tasty. What issues and friends might you face when growing them? Let’s discuss a few.
If you damage the root system of a pecan tree when you plant it, the young tree could have trouble finding nutrients. If the roots of a tree are damaged, it can have difficulty taking up water, which may cause the tree to appear wilted. A leaf analysis can help you determine if your tree is taking in the right amount of nutrients. By taking leaf samples over time, you can determine the type of nutrient deficiencies (if any) and the remediation needed. You can have your leaves analyzed through your local agricultural extension office.
If you plant your tree in a shaded area or in a place where moisture doesn’t drain, it could be more susceptible to diseases. Trees that are young may benefit from replanting, while those that are older may require help from an arborist.
Birds and squirrels can ruin your pecan crop by eating the nuts before you have a chance to harvest them. Squirrels in particular can cause extensive damage to pecan trees in a short amount of time. An established tree is not much of a problem and the worst-case scenario is that you can only collect pecans in more abundant seasons. Hanging mesh bags filled with mothballs on tree branches may help to keep deer away. Electronic sonic deterrents, like ultrasonic dog repellers, work by emitting a high-frequency noise that is supposed to be unpleasant to dogs. These devices can be effective, but you need to make sure the batteries are fresh.
Weevils are a problem for pecan production. They’ll tunnel into the nutshell with their small proboscis to eat the flesh inside. The nematodes kill weevil larvae, so they never mature and seek nuts. The most effective time to use the traps is from September to December, when the weevil larvae are overwintering. Pesticides that contain fungi can be applied to the base of a tree weekly to help prevent insect infestations. These attack crop pest larvae.
Yellow aphids suck the sap out of pecan leaves and tree matter. They spread honeydew, a yellow film, around pecan orchards. This will be most noticeable in the spring when they are most active. Parasitic wasps and ladybugs can be introduced to consume the aphids. You can also prevent them by planting cover crops like alfalfa and hairy vetch. Insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, and neem oil can be used to get rid of them.
Root-knot nematodes are tiny, worm-like creatures that invade plant roots and cause the plant to produce galls, or small, abnormal growths. This results in the roots becoming deformed and “knotty.” If you have applied beneficial nematodes to control weevils, they can also easily treat grubs.
Pecan scab is well known among pecan growers. Pecan scab is a fungal disease that affects the pecan fruit, causing it to rot. The disease can cause the leaves of the tree to fall off and the pecans to be much smaller than they would be without the disease. There is no eliminating pecan scab, only managing it. There are plenty of cultivars bred for scab resistance. A few varieties of apple trees that have excellent scab resistance are Amling, Gafford, and Syrup Mill. You can reduce the amount of scab on your fruit by keeping your orchard clean.