I was at Mrs Hattie’s home on Paul street last week, admiring her productive pecan trees. She has a two pecan trees. One in the front yard and another in the back yard. Both were planted years ago by her mom. And both make excellent pecans every fall. Mrs. Hattie much prefers the one in the front yard as the shell is much thinner and easier to remove.
I was there because she had some concerns over the spots on the tree’s leaves. The spots were fungal, and being late in the year, nothing to be concerned about. I was, however, mighty impressed with the pecan crop she was about to have.
It just doesn’t seem the norm to have a good pecan crop off of our pecan trees. Every week throughout the fall, I’ll have someone ask why they never get a decent pecan harvest. Often the meat of their pecans is blackened and shriveled up.
If you are fussing about yours, the problem is probably from a very common fungal disease called scab.
Scab is the most important fungal disease in east Texas pecans. Control is not realistic for homeowners, so the selection of a disease resistant variety is very important.
It is true that smaller trees may be sprayed with a fungicide for the first few years with small sprayers. Yet homeowners normally do not have access to high-volume spray equipment required for season-long disease control on large trees. And if they did, it would not be economically feasible.
When choosing a pecan variety for home planting, the most important factor after finding a good well drained site is scab disease tolerance or resistance.
Plant a variety from the following list: Caddo, Desirable, Jackson, Oconee, Pawnee, Elliott, Sumner, or Forkert. Can you try another variety? Certainly. Just realize these were selected for resistance to our greatest nemesis: pecan scab disease.
For best results, you must plant in a site with well-drained soil. Remember, space and ample sunlight is essential for maintaining productivity over the long term.
Nitrogen is essential for good pecan growth. As a guide, apply 1 lb. of 33-0-0 per inch the trunk is wide each time you fertilize. For example, a one foot wide trunk needs 12 lbs. of N fertilizer spread evenly under the drip-line.
Don’t forget to water when our weather turns dry. The most common reason for dry pecan kernels dropping too soon is due to dry soil conditions in mid-summer on through the final formation of pecans.
On smaller trees, foliar zinc sprays to the leaves are very helpful for pecan growth in Texas. Soil applications of zinc are just not effective. Zinc is needed for leaf expansion, so applications should be made frequently in the early portion of the growing season for maximum growth.
How long until you get pecans from a newly planted tree? The longest estimated time on a variety is 12 years while some are reported to bear in 4-5 years.
Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org