Common Name: Pecan
Botanical Name: Carya illinoinensis
Type and Use: Deciduous shade tree with edible nuts
Location: Full sun
Planting Dates: Year-round from containers, bare rooted in the winter
Planting Method: Bare-rooted or from containers. Roots must be cut if they have circled in the container. Can be planted from seed also - the nuts may be smaller and have thicker shells but better taste and higher quality oil.
- Choose a well-drained site with plenty of room. Pecans get big. Whether the tree is bare-rooted, balled and burlapped, or container grown, measure the depth of the root system and dig a wide, ugly hole that’s only as deep as the roots. Backfill with the soil from the hole (no amendments) and settle the soil with water (no tamping). Cover the disturbed area with a mix of lava sand and compost. Top that 1 inch mixture layer with 3-5 inches of shredded hardwood bark or shredded native tree trimmings. Don’t use common pine bark mulch. It’s not as good for the tree and usually doesn’t stay in place anyway because it is bad about washing and blowing away. Staking, wrapping the trunk, and cutting the top back to match the root loss are all common recommendations and are very bad advice. None of these procedures do any good. In fact, they are all detrimental to proper tree establishment and growth.
Seed Emergence: Pecan roots emerge from seed (nuts) over winter and the top starts to grow in the spring as the temperatures warm.
Harvest Time: When the nuts start to fall from the trees in the fall
Height: 80-100 feet
Spread: 80-100 feet
Final Spacing: 30-60 feet, 60 feet x 60 feet in orchards is ideal
Growth Habits: Large growing and long-lived tree. The structure is normally irregularly spreading. The fall color is yellow but not spectacular
Culture: Pecan trees are easy to grow in most soils. They will grow better in deep soil, but can even grow in white rock. To ensure a productive crop with few insect and disease troubles, use a basic organic program that includes organic soil building and foliar feeding with Garrett Juice plus additives of garlic and potassium bicarbonate. Zinc is recommended often but rarely needed in an organic program. Control insect pests with a basic organic program and the release of lady beetles, green lacewings, and trichogramma wasps. The same techniques serve to indirectly control the disease pathogens that attack the foliage and nuts. Severe insect infestations can be stopped with citrus sprays.
Harvest and Storage: Pick up pecans as they drop in the fall. Sometimes shaking or thrashing the trees is necessary to loosen the nuts from the tree. Nuts can be stored in a dry, cool place and for a longer time, shelled or unshelled, in the freezer.
Notes: Native trees are the best. They are, in general, more durable, faster growing, longer lived, less trouble and the nuts are higher quality even though they are smaller and harder to shell.
Varieties: Best are natives and other small nut trees like Caddo.
Carya illinoinensis (CARE-ee-uh ill-e-noy-NEN-sis)
Deciduous Sun Height 100 feet Spread 100 feet Spacing 30- 50 feet
HABIT: Irregularly spreading, extremely graceful, yellow fall color, very long-lived. Deeply rooted.
CULTURE: Easy to grow pretty much anywhere.
USES: Shade tree, pecan crop.
PROBLEMS: Worst is webworms which is mainly an aesthetic problem. Somewhat messy most of the time but well worth it. Pecan nut casebearer but is easily controlled with trichogramma wasp releases starting at leaf emergence.
NOTES: Great choice for State Tree. The native varieties make better landscape trees than hybrids developed for soft-shell pecan crops. Native to North America.