Pecan Production in Backyards
by: Dr. Mario Villarino
I hope you and your family had a peaceful and enjoyable thanksgiving celebration. As we got together and enjoyed our favorite foods, the thanksgiving celebration give us the opportunity to appreciate our blessings and the bountiful provided by our land. George McEachern, extension horticulturist wrote that the pecan tree is native to Texas, it is the official state tree, it can be grown in every area of the state and it is a part of Texas tradition. All too frequently, the pecan is planted in anticipation of a large beautiful tree with heavy bearing. Unfortunately, there are times when this dream does not become a reality. A pecan tree can live with little or no care in much of Texas; however, if it is expected to look good as a landscape tree or if it is expected to produce high quality pecans every year, the pecan is a very high management crop.
When pecan problems occur the cause is frequently not easy to identify. However, once the problem or group of problems is identified, the grower can go about correcting the problem. If the problem cannot be solved, the grower at least knows what to expect and has the option of abandoning or destroying the trees. Along the 10,000 miles of rivers and streams in Texas there are many very large pecan trees which are living testimony of their tremendous survival potential. These trees have made it through extreme droughts such as the early 1950s where little or no rain occurred for four straight years, yet the pecan survived when other species of large trees died.The pecan is uniquely adapted to the hot, dry, windy Texas climate because it can tolerate stress.
If pecans are stressed in the fall, they will not set a large crop the following year, and the tree will survive on food stored in the trees’ massive limb, trunk and root system. On weak trees, the crop is shed by various ways throughout the season. This could be physiological drop, pollination drop, casebearer drop or waterstage drop. The shedding of pecans is an important natural stress management tool which contributes to the long survival of pecan trees. It is very difficult for pecan trees to absorb zinc from the soil; consequently, native trees do not make vigorous growth once they are mature and begin bearing. This natural vigor control via zinc unavailability plays an important role in long term native tree survival. Also, many alluvial river bottom soils have good depth, good internal drainage and a very high water holding capacity which are additional reasons native trees are good survivors.The pecan tree is a common landscape element in Hopkins County.
With our current weather conditions, pecans are producing a considerable good crop this year. Many home owners might have noticed a significant color change in new leaf growth in mature pecans. Nutrient depletion, specially potassium and zinc can cause changes in new leaf growth. Potassium, a macro nutrient commonly applied in fertilizers is responsible of new leaf color. Potassium deficiencies can cause pale green color in new growth, and zinc deficiencies can cause new leaf curling. I have also seen several trees suffering from rust, a major problem affecting nut production more than affecting leaf growth. For more information in pecan production or any other agricultural topics please contact the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443 or email me at email@example.com