How to Grow Pecan Trees

Опубликовал Admin
17-11-2020, 04:10
Pecan trees are native to south central North America, and they grow best in deep, loamy soil. Their buttery nuts are baked into pies and other sweet desserts, and the wood can be used to make furniture or flooring. Growing a pecan tree starts with planting a bare-root or pot-grown tree in a spot well away from buildings and other obstacles. The tree will begin producing nuts after four to eight years, and needs plenty of water to produce hearty nuts.

Choosing a Variety and Planting Site

  1. Learn about the different varieties. Different pecan tree varieties grow to varying sizes and produce distinct nuts. Whether you're looking for a tall shade tree that will grow to over 100 feet (30.5 m) or a tree that produces reliably plump and flavorful nuts, there's bound to be a variety that meets your needs. Try to choose one that's known to grow well in your region, taking winter hardiness and disease resistance into account. Here are just a few popular choices:
    • Cad do: Has one of the highest yield potentials of all pecan trees. Type 1 pollinator and thrives in both heat and cold hardy environments. A very versatile tree that is excellent for home yards.
    • Cape Fear:Starts producing its high-quality nuts relatively early in it’s life cycle. Exhibits rigorous and upright growth and is extremely disease resistant. A type 1 pollinator.
    • Elliot: Has a high quality but small nut and bears fruit every other year. It should not be planted in northern areas since it can get damaged by spring freezes; does well in Georgia.
    • Gloria Grande: Produces large, thick-shelled nuts almost every year, and is resistant to scab, which commonly damages pecan trees. Susceptible to black aphids.
    • Amling: Scab-resistant and early to harvest. Produces small, good-quality nuts.
    • Sumner: Easily damaged, but produces regularly.
    • Gafford: Highly insect resistant and popular in Alabama; produces excellent nuts.
    • McMillan: Very productive and relatively low maintenance; popular in Alabama.
    • Desirable:A perfect contender for southern states due to its heat resistance and self sufficient tendencies. This type 1 pollinator does has a flaw though- most scab susceptible cultivar (fungicides are necessary). As the tree matures it exhibits higher yield.
  2. Pick a sunny planting spot with plenty of room. Pecan trees can grow over 100 feet (30.5 m) tall, and they have root systems that stretch deep and wide. They need plenty of space, whether you're planting them in your yard or in an orchard. When you're choosing a spot, take the following into consideration:
    • Make sure there are no buildings or other trees nearby. A pecan tree could damage buildings or smaller trees with falling branches as it grows bigger.
    • In an orchard, plant the trees at least 60 feet (18.3 m) apart. Allow for approximately 65 to 80 feet (19.81 to 24.38 m) spacing between each pecan tree that you plant. If trees are crowded, the faster growing tree will over-shadow the slower tree, stunt it, and kill it eventually, hampering both trees' crops.
    • Pecan trees take 20 to 25 years to mature. Some growers will plant trees 30 feet apart, and remove half the trees at around 15 years, when they begin to crowd each other.
  3. Make sure the soil is well-drained and deep. This type of soil is the healthiest for pecans, which are native to river valley soils. They prefer sandy loam but can be planted in heavier soil as well, as long as it's well-draining. Rocky or light soil is a more difficult environment for pecans.
    • Avoid planting in very dry or light soil, unless you plan to irrigate, since pecans need a lot of water.
    • Avoid frost pockets where cold air settles, since they get damaged by frost. Plant at slightly higher elevation (but lower latitude).
  4. Choose between a bare-root tree or a container tree. Pecans are most commonly sold as bare-root trees, which are baby trees no more than a few feet tall. Container trees are also available; trees grown this way are usually a few years older.
    • A bare-root is cheaper but more fragile, and must be planted between December and March.
    • A container tree is more expensive but sturdier, and can be planted between October and May.
  5. Plant trees the day you bring them home. Exposing them to heat and dry air will cause the roots to dry out. Remember that pecan trees, above all, need to be kept moist. They die quickly when they dry out.
    • If you have a container tree ready to be planted, you can keep it above ground for a day or two longer if you make sure to water it.
    • Revive a dry tree by soaking the roots before planting.

Planting the Tree

  1. Examine your pecan tree prior to planting it in the ground. Remove any dead branches and badly broken roots, since these will be impediments to healthy growth.
  2. Dig a hole as deep as the taproot for planting. Pecans have a long, fragile taproot that must be allowed to stretch out into the ground. Dig a hole as deep as the taproot and just wide enough to accommodate the spread of the rest of the roots. This will be about three feet deep and a few feet wide.
    • If the hole isn't deep enough, the taproot will not grow properly. Don't attempt to plant it in a shallow hole.
    • However, gauge the depth to be no more than what is enough to cover the roots. If the holes are too deep, the pecan trees will settle, which could result in root rot or damage, poor growth, and the pecan trees could prematurely die.
    • A special long-headed shovel is the best tool for the job if you're planting just a few trees.
  3. Set the tree in the hole. Arrange the roots in a natural position, and keep the taproot intact as you lower it into the hole. Be very careful not to damage any of the roots, and especially the taproot, since this will cause problems as the tree starts to grow.
    • Do not plant it too deep in the ground. The roots and taproot should be in the hole, but make sure the trunk of the tree is above ground. Look for the place where the bark changes color just above the roots (this marks depth at which it was growing at the nursery). If you plant it too deep, the tree will have trouble growing in the right shape.
    • Make sure the taproot is straightened if it’s a potted tree. They tend to curl up in the pot. Carefully straighten it out and lower it into the hole.
  4. Fill the hole. After the tree is set in the hole, fill it 3/4 way full with water. Begin adding soil as the water is running, and continue adding soil and water at the same time until the hole is full. Top it off with more soil.
    • Don't pack the soil tightly; just fill up the hole until it's level with the ground.
    • Filling it with water ensures that the tree gets the moisture it needs, while also preventing air pockets from forming.
  5. Top the tree. Prune the top 1/2 to 1/3 of the tree, a procedure called topping. This encourages the tree to grow healthy roots, rather than putting its energy into keeping the top alive. For now, a healthy root system is what you want to encourage.
  6. Paint the trunk. This protects it from sun damage. Use white latex paint and paint from where the trunk exits the ground up to the first set of branches. Keep it painted for the first three years. If you don't want to use paint, you can also use a sleeve or growing tube, available from gardening centers.
  7. Mulch the tree. Use 6 inches of pine straw or leaves. Pack the mulch around the base of the tree and over the root system. Mulching the tree protects it from weeds and keeps it safe from frost in its early years.

Caring for the Tree

  1. Water it well. Water your pecan tree thoroughly immediately after planting it. For the first six months, water about 10 to 15 gallons (37.9 to 56.8 L) once a week. Do not water too much or too often, though, since you don't want to create a harmful soggy condition.
    • Keep in mind that part or all of the water supply can come from rainfall.
    • After the tree has matured, watering is essential during the nut filling stage at the end of summer. In a dry area, up to 350 gallons (1,324.9 L) of water per day is needed to ensure the nuts don’t end up small and mealy.
  2. Train your tree. Your tree should be trained to a central leader system, which is based on the natural growth structure of the tree. The central leader is the dominant upright branch, and the surrounding branches (or scaffold) spiral up around the central leader. When choosing scaffolding branches, look for those that are at a wide angle to the trunk, around 45 degrees. Remove branches growing at more than a 60 degree angle to the trunk, as these are more likely to break later. Training your tree maximizes the tree's nut production.
  3. Determine when to fertilize. In the first three years, fertilize in early summer. Use a pound of 5-10-5 for every inch of trunk diameter. For a mature tree, use four pounds of 10-10-10 for every inch of trunk diameter, up to 25 pounds. Never fertilize directly over the roots; spread the fertilizer evenly over the surrounding area.
    • If you want to make sure your pecan tree produces an excellent crop, you might consider spraying with zinc fertilizer to help nut meat to fill-in. Do this only after you notice that the nuts aren't filled with meat in previous years.
    • Use ammonium nitrate to spur growth when necessary.
  4. Control pests and disease. Monitor your pecan trees on a regular basis to look for possible damage from insects, disease and wildlife. Consider using sprays as recommended by the product manufacturers to remove and control insects and disease. It will be difficult to reach high enough to treat giant, mature trees without tall ladders or special equipment. Common pests and diseases include:
    • Aphids
    • Pecan scab
    • Birds and squirrels
  5. Prune your pecan tree during the dormant season. Remove excess branches, dead wood, low or low-hanging mature limbs during the dormant season, ideally late winter or early spring, or before new growth begins. Pruning helps the pecan trees to thrive without becoming overgrown. You should also manage any bushy undergrowth problems that could develop under the pecan tree. Weeds hinder the growth of very young trees and absorb some of the water needed to keep unestablished pecan trees healthy.
  6. Harvest your pecans after the shucks open. One method for retrieving the pecans is to carefully shake the tree branches so that the nuts fall to the ground. Then you can immediately pick them up. Do not leave them on moist ground or in wet leaves; they'll get water-logged and split or even sprout.
    • Using a slender fishing pole to shake off the nuts helps to lightly flick pecans out of the open hulls within your reach without much damage to next year's crop, which occurs only on the new year's growth.
    • Know that you have the option of waiting until the nuts fall to the ground, such as after a windy night. Squirrels will get them while still up in the tree, so just pick them up pretty early each day to beat local squirrels to them. (Commercial orchards often use special tree vibrator-shakers to work the pecans loose from the open hulls and also use machinery to pick up fallen nuts.)
  7. Dry your fresh pecans to prepare them for storage. Pecans will keep longer if they're dried to a low level of water moisture. They'll store best when their shells are solidly filled-in and their oil content is high.
    • To dry them, spread your pecans indoors on a dry floor or on screens that have been set high off the ground under a shelter, safe from precipitation and ground moisture. It should take about two weeks for the pecans to thoroughly dry. A good indication is that a pecan nut meat will snap when it has been properly dried.
    • Store your pecans in the refrigerator for up to six months in airtight storage containers that prevent absorbing odors from meats, vegetables or fruits.
    • To keep the pecans even longer, store them in your freezer.


  • Enjoy the naturally nutritious, healthy source of omega-3 fatty acids, luscious-essential oils, muscle building proteins plus a smattering of vitamins and minerals.
  • Pecans can be eaten whole as is or used when cooking to make delicious breads, cookies, cakes and variations of classic, southern pecan pie made with light or dark syrup or luscious chocolate.


  • Do not thrash your tree limbs with long, stiff poles, or by throwing heavy sticks or such, which will damage next year's new growth and crop.
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