Earlier this week we received the following email from Ms Jessica Stewart:

Hello everyone at the Copper Trinity,

My kids and I love pecans. We really want to grow some pecan trees in our property but don’t know how to get them started. Any advice?

Pecan trees are native to the United States, where they thrive in southern locations with a long growing season. Just one tree will give you more nuts than you’ll know what to do with, enough for your family. Also, the trees will provide deep shade that will make hot summers a little more bearable. However, growing pecan trees in small yards isn’t practical because the trees are large and there are no dwarf varieties. A mature pecan tree stands about 150 feet (45.5 m.) tall with a spreading canopy.

Still, if you are going to plant a single tree in your yard, you’ll get enough shade to help cool your house. You’ll also have enough nuts to make pecan pie all winter long!

Pecan Planting Guide: Location and Preparation

Plant the tree in a location with soil that drains freely to a depth of 5 feet (1.5 m.). Growing pecan trees have a long taproot that is susceptible to disease if the soil is soggy. Hilltops are ideal. Space the trees 60 to 80 feet (18.5-24.5 m.) apart and well away from structures and power lines.

Pruning the tree and the roots before planting will encourage strong growth and make pecan tree care much easier. Cut off the top one-third to one-half of the tree and all of the side branches to allow strong roots to develop before they have to support top growth. Don’t allow side branches any lower than 5 feet (1.5 m.) from the ground. This makes it easier to maintain the lawn or groundcover under the tree and prevents low-hanging branches from becoming obstructions.

Bare root trees that feel dry and brittle should be soaked in a bucket of water for several hours before planting. The taproot of a container grown pecan tree needs special attention before planting. The long taproot usually grows in a circle around the bottom of the pot and should be straightened before the tree is planted. If this isn’t possible, cut off the lower part of the taproot. Remove all damaged and broken roots.

How to Plant a Pecan Tree

Plant pecan trees in a hole about 3 feet (1 m.) deep and 2 feet (0.5 m.) wide. Position the tree in the hole so that the soil line on the tree is even with the surrounding soil, then adjust the depth of the hole, if necessary.

Begin filling the hole with soil, arranging the roots in a natural position as you go. Don’t add soil amendments or fertilizer to the fill dirt. When the hole is half full, fill it with water to remove air pockets and settle the soil. After the water drains through, fill the hole with soil. Press the soil down with your foot and then water deeply. Add more soil if a depression forms after watering.

Caring For Pecan Trees

For mature trees, soil moisture determines the number, size, and fullness of the nuts as well as the amount of new growth. Water often enough to keep the soil evenly moist from the time the buds begin to swell until harvest. Cover the root zone with 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm.) of mulch to slow water evaporation.

In spring of the year after the tree was planted, spread a pound (0.5 kg.) of 5-10-15 fertilizer over a 25 square foot (2.5 sq. m.) area around the tree, beginning 1 foot (0.5 m.) from the trunk. The second and third year after planting, use 10-10-10 fertilizer in the same manner in late winter or early spring, and again in late spring. When the tree begins to bear nuts, use 4 pounds (2 kg.) of 10-10-10 fertilizer for each inch (2.5 cm.) of trunk diameter.

Zinc is important for pecan tree development and nut production. Use a pound (0.5 kg.) of zinc sulfate each year for young trees and three pounds (1.5 kg.) for nut-bearing trees.

Do You Have Questions?

Do you have quesitons about any of the following topics: pecans, beekeeping, hydroponic farming? If so, send us your questions and we’ll do our best to anwer them!