Home grown pecans delicious by any name


Pecan weevils are late-season pests of pecan trees that cause developing nuts to drop prematurely.

Photo courtesy of USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, Bugwood.org.
Published: Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 04:12 PM.

If you are from Western North Carolina, you probably call them pe-kahns, and if you are from Eastern North Carolina, you likely call them pe-cans. No matter how you say it, pecan trees are becoming more popular in home landscapes. Native to North America, pecan trees have many benefits as edible landscape additions for the patient gardener. With minimal effort and inputs and the right soil conditions, you can grow pecan trees in your backyard.

Selecting the right location

Pecan trees do well in most soil types except those that are poorly drained, have a hardpan near the surface, or have very high clay content. Ideally, trees should be planted in a rich, moisture retentive, well-drained soil. If you are planting in sandy soils, more irrigation will be required to establish trees and keep them productive. Ideally trees should be spaced at least 30 feet apart and 30 feet away from other trees, buildings, and power lines. Avoid overcrowding as this will reduce growth and nut production. Keep in mind mature pecan trees can grow to 80 feet tall.

Container grown trees should be planted at the same depth in which they grew in the container. To plant, dig a hole at least twice as wide as the root ball. Do not add fertilizer at planting time. Level soil around the base of the tree, water well, and mulch the soil with pine straw or bark mulch to help insulate newly-planted trees.

Choose the right variety

There are many varieties of pecan trees available but not all are adapted for our region. For proper pollination, make sure to plant a type 1 and a type 2 variety. Recommended varieties for our area include Cape Fear (type 1), Pawnee (type 1), Sumner (type 2), and Elliot (type 2). These varieties are recommended because of their resistance to pecan scab, a difficult to control fungal disease that can greatly reduce nut production. Keep in mind it often takes pecan trees five to seven years to begin producing nuts.

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