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Mr. Smarty Plants - Planting pecan trees in Austin

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Thursday - October 23, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Planting pecan trees in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What's the protocol for planting pecan trees in the Austin area? What do you have to do to get them to grow and how long does it take? Can you plant just one?

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center native plant database actually has a Plant Protocol for the pecan tree.

From our webpage on Carya illinoinensis (pecan), we took this information:

"Susceptible to galls, twig girdlers, aphids, borers, weevils, pecan scab, tent caterpillars, and webworms. Slow-growing. Difficult to transplant because of a large taproot."

Pecan trees often suffer from zinc deficiency and require lots of nitrogen fertilizer. In Austin soils, pecan trees should probably be sprayed with zinc sulfate every 2 to 4 weeks during the spring and early summer. 

Pecans are pollinated by the wind and both male and female flowers are on the same tree; therefore, you need only plant one tree. They occur naturally along larger streams and rivers in Texas and are cultivated throughout much of the Southern U.S. Since you probably are not planning to grow your Austin pecan along a large river, you should know that they require 1 to 2 inches a week of rain during the growing season, so you need irrigation. 

The pecan is a slow-growing tree that takes 15 to 20 years before it starts bearing and requires a frost-free period of 6 to 9 months for its fruit to mature. Best production occurs on trees 75 to 225 years old. 

Pecan cultivars usually are grafted onto seedlings of vigorous strains grown specifically for the purpose. Most nurseries sell pecan trees that have 2-3 year old roots and one year old scions. The little trees have long taproots and are more difficult to transplant successfully than most other fruit or nut trees.

So, yes, you can grow a single pecan in the Austin area. Are you sure you want to? How long were you planning to live? If you have to wait 75 years for a pecan pie, it might not be worth it. 


Carya illinoinensis

Carya illinoinensis

Carya illinoinensis

Carya illinoinensis

 

 

 

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