En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - September 04, 2012

From: Grand Prairie, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Pecan tree dropping limbs in Grand Prairie, TX.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


Our 15 year old pecan tree is losing it's limbs. The tree and its leaves look healthy with no signs of bugs or mites, but all the limbs are drooping and breaking off. The tree did have a bumper crop of pecans and the weight of the green pecans may have been a factor. We have lost half of the tree and are wondering if it's a lost cause at this point.


That sounds like significant limb loss, so before you read the rest of this, you might want to contact some one in the area who is knowledgeable about pecan trees to take a look at your tree and diagnose the problem. Mr Smarty Plants is a fan of Texas Agrilife Extension, and since Grand Prairie is in three counties, it would seem that you have three Extension Offices to choose from; Dallas County, Ellis County, and Tarrant County.

Limb loss can be attributed to several causes including insects, squirrels, and water stress.  An insect culprit is the twig girdler,  whose damage is mostly restricted to twigs and smaller limbs. Squirrels also concentrate mostly on smaller limbs. It sounds as if you are loosing larger limbs which could be a problem of water stress. The drought and the bumper crop of pecans have strained the tree’s water supply which in turn causes the limbs to become dry and brittle.

The links below address these three contingencies.


North Carolina State University

Texas Pecan 

This link to Colorada State University give good advice about tree pruning which you will need to do to shape up your tree.


More Trees Questions

Why are small leaf pieces aligned on top of exposed root?
July 11, 2011 - Hi. An oak tree in my yard has one of its exposed roots covered in hundreds of small pieces of leaves. The pieces follow exactly the shape of the root above the surface. What insect would do this and...
view the full question and answer

Planting Anacacho orchid tree in Llano, TX
October 05, 2011 - Re Bauhinia lunarioides: I'm trying to pick a good site in Llano Co for a 5 gal tree I received as a gift. Your plant database says part shade. The arid zone trees publication you reference in a...
view the full question and answer

Aphids in pecan tree from Austin
July 14, 2012 - Last year at this time (midsummer) everything under the canopy of our 60+ year old pecan tree was covered with a sticky substance--plants, lawn furniture, concrete pool deck..Since we had never seen t...
view the full question and answer

Pecan tree transplant in Elgin, TX
August 26, 2008 - Hello, Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a question about how to encourage a very young pecan sapling to grow, and whether I should use mulch to do so. I live in Elgin (Bastrop County) and the soil is extr...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen trees for California that are non-toxic for dogs
February 19, 2014 - Hi, we live in California, San Bernardino County and would like to know what evergreen trees are safe to plant in our backyard with 2 little dogs being around. I did quite some search online but ever...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center