Nursery trees

  • The pecan tree has a strong, long tap-root system.
  • The tap root must be cut at 1 m with a sharp spade. The tree must then be carefully removed from the soil and taken to a shady place immediately. To prevent them from drying out, the roots must be covered with wet sawdust or any other suitable damp material.
  • Carefully inspect the trees, and discard those with roots that are bent.

Planting in orchards

    • Before planting, the topsoil must be loosened to a depth of 1 m.
    • The depth of the hole must be deeper than 1 m, or at least 200 mm deeper than the length of the tap root.
    • Some of the loose soil should be replaced, so that the cut end of the tap root is in loose soil. This promotes vertical root growth during the first season of establishment.
  • Well-rotted compost/plant material can be added to the hole.
  • Zinc fertiliser (22 % Zn) should also be added (0,5 kg/ hole) and mixed well with the topsoil.
  • No other fertiliser should be used when planting.
  • The tree will need to be planted at exactly the same depth in the orchard, as it was in the nursery. Should it be planted too shallow, the root collar will be exposed to the sun, causing sunburn and eventual die-back or stunted growth.

Planting method


  • Newly planted trees must be irrigated immediately. Thereafter, be careful when irrigating, as too much water given before the tree starts growing, may cause the roots to rot.
  • The trees also need to be treated against the possibility of termite attacks, by destroying all termite nests in the vicinity timeously.
  • To prevent sunburn damage, the trees should be whitewashed. Putting a straw mulch around the base of the young tree is also advised for better conservation of moisture, and to protect the roots against high temperatures. After planting, the trees must be topped at a height of 1m, to encourage branching in order to form a framework.
  • During the first season after planting, young trees need to be inspected regularly.

Note: Control the grass

Controlling all competing vegetation within a 7 foot radius is the most important agricultural practice you can use to increase pecan tree growth rate. Yes, that does mean controlling the grass. Herbicides or a thick blanket of wood chip mulch can be used. Either way, the only way to ensure fast growth during the early years of a pecan tree’s life is total vegetation control. In the photo on the left, a young tree has a herbicide circle around it. Not only does vegetation control increase tree growth, it also stimulates early nut production.

Once pecan trees reach 8 or 9 inches in trunk diameter, they seem to dominate the ground cover and herbicide circles become less important to tree growth and nut production.

Main Causes why pecan nut trees die:

  1. The most common reason why pecan nut trees dies is because the trees are planted too shallow.
  2. Trees should be planted 50-75mm deeper than the mark between the root and the stem; in other words 50-75mm deeper than the mark that the trees grew in the nursery.
  3. Large holes were dug and not thoroughly watered cause soil to subside leave roots exposed to sunlight and air.

Trees die because of inadequate irrigation as well as trees planted in dry ground and not in a thoroughly watered hole. Trees planted under micro and drip went through a period where the soil has dried out, after the trees budded and then die back. Trees die back because of inadequate moisture when trees planted between banks are not watered thoroughly. The dry parts between the rows, absorb the moisture which results that the root zone of the trees to have inadequate moisture. Frost damage are also common after new growth was observed. The trees budded in most cases but some die. Summer foliage control may also help to prevent these problems. New growth points on pecan nut tree.

It is important to cut back pecan nut trees, the branches as well as the roots. (Especially all the shaved roots when you pull the tree out


Roots of a tree exposed.
The tree budded and died back.
The pen and arrow indicates the mark on the tree, grown in the nursery.
New growth points on pecan nut tree.

Pruning of pecan nut trees that developed scaffold branches too low.

  1. Low scaffold branches are a problem when trees must be shaken.
  2. It is a four year process to rehabilitate the trees, since it is not advisable to cut off more than two branches per year.

Marks of the branches felled in the previous years can still be observed in the years after.

Note the lack of tributaries on the central branch due to overshadowing; hopefully new shoots will sprout on the new scaffold branches.
Ideal height of frame branches is at 1.8 meters.

The information supplied on this website is used at your own discretion. Please refer to our disclaimer

× How can I help you?