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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - July 18, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pruning, Trees
Title: Repair of broken branch stump on pecan tree
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, big fan. Recently one of my pecan trees had a large branch break off, about 4 or 5 inches in diameter. The strange part was there was no clear sign of what caused the damage, i.e. no heavy winds or rain that night. With thunder storms forecasted, we went ahead and removed the damaged branches. However, now we are wondering what additional maintenance might be needed. Any advice?

ANSWER:

Carya illinoinensis (pecan) is notorious for its brittle limbs. It is never a good idea to situate houses or other crushable objects of value beneath them. With the copious rainfall in your area (Central Texas) this year, the pecans have put on more lush, heavy growth than normal. Combine that with developing nuts, and some limbs are bound to break -- even in the absence of wind and rain. It is possible there could have been some kind of damage on the limb which also hastened its demise.

If you haven't already done so, you will want to properly prune the broken branch stump back to the limb collar. The use of pruning paint to seal the cut is unnecessary and not advised for pecans. Other than removing dead and diseased limbs, there isn't a lot of other top maintenance that should be done to pecans by homeowners. If in doubt about your tree, contact a local ISA certified arborist for advice and service.

 

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