Fruit and Nut Review
Pecans in the Home Landscape
Pecans can be used in the home lawn; however, there are advantages and disadvantages. Generally, a pecan tree grows rapidly after the first 2 to 3 years and offers shade. The shade usually is dense and the foliage dark green. Nut production is highly variable, but on producing years, the nuts offer added benefits for human consumption and as a wildlife attractant.
Disadvantages of pecan trees include sooty mold that drips on the sidewalk, automobile, or house. The mold develops on the honeydew excreted by aphids feeding on the pecan tree.
Another disadvantage is the early leaf loss from various diseases and insect damage. This leaf loss can sometimes occur in late summer, and the homeowner has no practical method to control the problem. In some cases, local pesticide companies offer a spray service to consumers to help combat sooty mold, diseases, and insects.
Varieties Recommended for the Home
Disease resistance is the primary ingredient for varietal selections in home plantings. Pecan varieties recommended for Mississippi are listed. Some are designated for north Mississippi and others for south Mississippi.
Cape Fear has bright kernels and a high productivity rate. It has adequate scab resistance but experiences severe leaf scorch.
Forkert produces a high-quality nut with a high-percent kernel weight. The nut is of adequate size, thin-shelled, and good production. Even though it is susceptible to scab, Forkert is considered a good home pecan.
Kiowa produces large, high-quality nuts with a high-percent kernel. It has good scab resistance. This pecan is similar to the old variety "Desirable."
Owens has large, well-filled nuts and moderate production. The nuts are thick-shelled. The tree is scab-resistant and has done well throughout Mississippi.
Sumner, from South Georgia, has good nut size and kernel percentage. Scab resistance is good; harvest is late. South Mississippi only.
Elliott is a scab-resistant variety favored for planting in home lawns. The small, teardrop-shaped nuts have high-quality kernels. Older trees tend to bear alternately. Observations indicate that it is aphid-susceptible and may be prone to late frost and winter damage. South Mississippi only.
Melrose produces a good-quality pecan of adequate size. In addition to excellent scab resistance, it is reported to be more tolerant of zinc deficiency than other varieties. South Mississippi only.
Jackson produces a large nut with high-percent kernel weight. It has moderate scab resistance. Grower reports indicate older trees do not consistently produce good yields and quality.
The rooting depth of a pecan tree is sometimes 6 to 10 feet. Therefore, selecting a well-drained, deep soil is best. Avoid excessively wet soils and crawfish or buckshot soils. Water should never stand for any period of time on the site. Create a berm if necessary to increase surface drainage. Pecan trees require full sun; no large shade trees or buildings should be close. Remember--pecan trees eventually get very large. Plant the trees 50 to 75 feet apart.
Container vs. Bareroot Trees
Container-grown trees have feeder roots intact and can be planted any time of the year (avoid hot months). Container trees not planted immediately after buying can be held in the shade with adequate watering. Since the roots of container-grown trees aren't disturbed at planting, there is no need to prune back the top. Container trees experience less transplant shock and usually produce sooner than bareroot trees. On the average, more container trees than bareroot trees survive after planting .
Container trees usually cost more than do the bareroot trees and may be pot-bound with roots coiled inside the container. Cut coiled roots before planting. Container trees must be picked up at the nursery, not shipped like packaged, bareroot trees.
There usually is a greater selection of bareroot trees than container-grown trees, because more nurseries produce them. There usually is a wider selection of sizes and varieties. Bareroot trees cost less than container trees, because they are less expensive to produce. In most cases, 2 to 3 feet of taproot are dug with the bareroot tree, and this helps to anchor the tree when planted. Also, this increases the tree's ability to withstand drought.
Planting and Training
Proper planting and training of pecan trees are among the most important practices a homeowner can undertake. The keys to success in transplanting pecan trees include the following:
Fertilizing Young Trees
Soil test and apply residual fertilizer before planting trees. Begin fertilizer applications 3 to 6 months after planting. If a soil test is not taken, apply 2.5 to 3 pounds of 13-13-13 in February or March the year the tree is transplanted. For the following years, apply 3 to 4 pounds of 13-13-13 for each inch of trunk diameter, measured one foot above the soil surface. Do not put fertilizer materials any closer than 12 inches to the tree trunk. Fertilizer materials at high rates can damage the tree root when placed too close to the trunk.
Annual terminal growth for young pecan trees should be from 2 to 4 feet. Where growth of trees has been less, in May or June apply nitrogen in addition to the mixed fertilizer at the rate of one pound of ammonium nitrate (33 percent N) per tree for each inch in trunk diameter. This additional nitrogen application often is needed on very sandy soils. Make supplemental nitrogen applications when irrigation is available.
By Dr. Freddie Rasberry, Extension horticulturist; Dr. Frank Matta, professor of Horticulture; Dr. Richard Mullenax, professor and head, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences; and John Davis and John Braswell, Extension area Horticulture specialists
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