Pecans are native to the bottom lands of a wide part of the South. They need at least three feet of good soil above the water table to grow well. If your soil doesn’t meet these requirements, you will be disappointed with your tree.
If, however, you do have this, pecans make beautiful and productive trees for your landscape. When planning where to plant the tree, be aware that pecans are self pruning. That means unproductive limbs drop off when the tree gets larger. Do not plant the tree where such limbs will come down into your roof.
Pecans should be planted at least 30 feet from any building and in the full sun. You can purchase pecans a bare root trees or as container grown. Bare root trees are planted when they are dormant, usually December or January. Container grown trees can be planted any time of the year.
Pecans need another pecan tree around to produce the best crop of nuts. While pecans can be wind pollinated if another tree is within 1/4 mile, within 300 feet is optimal. Pick varieties of trees that do well in your area. Your Extension agent can tell you what these are.
Resist the temptation to dig the hole for your tree, plant it, then fill the hole with compost or extra fertile soil. You need to plant the tree in the soil that came out of the hole. Otherwise, the roots will circle around trying to stay in the good soil and girdle your tree.
Holes need to be big enough to plant the tree at the same level as it was in the soil it grew in. Then the top half of the tree is pruned away. This keeps the demands of the top from over taxing the roots as the roots try to grow and feed the tree.
Immediately water the tree with five gallons of water. You will need to water the tree all of the first year it is planted in your yard. This allows the roots to grow deeper and hold the tree in the soil as it grows large. Once established, the tree will need one inch of water a week over the entire area under it’s branches from green up through late summer.
Pecan trees need nitrogen for optimal growth. Soil tests will help you determine how much nitrogen the tree will need each year. Pecan trees also need to be sprayed with a zinc solution every two weeks from the time the leaves start to grow to around mid summer. The exact dates vary by region. Pecan trees do not grow well without the zinc.
If you are growing the pecan tree for pecans, as opposed to as an ornamental tree, you will need to control weeds under the canopy, or branches, so they do not compete with the tree for nutrients and water. If you allow grass to grow under the tree, you will need to water it more at each watering to compensate.
Pecans need to be pruned yearly and have a spray schedule that starts in the winter and goes through the harvest. Your Extension agent can give you an idea of when to spray with what product and how to prune properly.
Pecan trees are majestic and can be a good addition to the Southern landscape. Good luck with your trees.