Pecan Trees available from O.S.A

The Pecan Tree:

Taxonomy and Origin
Pecan is a North American member of the walnut plant family (Juglandaceae) and is the only species in the hickory genus (Carya) of widespread horticultural significance. The main body of the pecan native range is in the south-central US, extending across a broad, environmentally-diverse region (ranging from semi-arid to humid, continental to sub-tropical). Stands of native pecans are also found scattered south into subtropical and tropical ar aSi of Mexico. Thus, sub-populations of native pecan trees are adapted to a wide range of temperature, moisture, and soil conditions. Native pecan forests occupy areas with deep alluvial soils along streams.

Stems and Leaves
Pecan trees are very large, deciduous, sun-loving trees. Leaves are pinnately compound, typically with 9-13 leaflets. At each shoot node there are several lateral buds present . The largest of these buds is called the primary bud . Immediately below each primary bud at each node are smaller secondary and tertiary buds. Normally, the primary bud is the most likely bud to actually grow and produce new shoots in the spring. However, if the primary bud {or primary shoot) is removed or injured {e.g., by a late spring freeze), the secondary and tertiary buds can serve as “reserve buds” to produce shoot growth at that node in the primary bud’s absence. Secondary and tertiary buds tend to produce wider-angled, less vigorous shoots than primary buds, a trait that is sometimes used in training young pecan trees for strong canopy structure.

Flowers and Fruit
Seedling pecan trees (un-grafted) have a non-reproductive juvenility period that may last 10 or more years. Depending on cultivar, grafted or budded pecan trees take 3-7 years before producing flowers and nuts. Pecan is monoecious, having separate male and female flowers on the same plant . The male flowers are borne in large numbers on catkins, which arise laterally in the spring along the last season’s shoot growth. Female flowers are borne terminally in a spike {often with 6 or more flowers per spike) on current season’s growth. Pollination is by wind . For a given cultivar, male flowers shed pollen either before (“Type I” cultivars) or after (“Type II” cultivars) female flowers are receptive to pollination.

Thus, planting cultivars of both pollination types is necessary in an orchard for optimal nut production . Through the growing season, there are 4 natural waves of female flower and fruit drop determining final fruit set. After pollinat ion, developing pecan fruit enter the nut sizing phase during which pecan fruit reaches full size. This phase ends when shell hardening is complete and for late-ripening cultivars takes 3-4 months. The second phase of fruit development, the kernel fill phase, happens during the last 1-2 months of the season when the pecan seed replaces the liquid and gel endosperm within the fruit.

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