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Grow Your Own Pecan Tree
Have you ever dreamed of going into your backyard and picking a fresh pecan off the tree? Yes, it sounds idyllic, but in reality, it is not so difficult! This post will give you a general overview on how to plant your own pecan tree.
Pecan lovers often dream of having their own backyard pecan tree. Even for many pecan manufacturers, pecans are more than just a business, but also a family tradition and a source of pride and accomplishment. A classic example of this bond between man and his pecan tree is found with San Saba pecans. These pecans are grown in San Saba, Texas, a region who calls itself “The Pecan Capital of the World.” This revolution began by one man named, Edmund E. Risien, who dedicated his life to cultivating San Saba pecans. This region boasts a historical “mother pecan tree”, from which numerous pecan varieties were produced.
DIY Pecan Tree
However, you don’t need to live in San Saba in order to grow your own pecans. Although you won’t be able to call them San Saba pecans, they’ll be delicious and nutritious just the same. Here are some general instructions and tips to get your own pecan tree growing.
Before planting it is important to ensure you have the right conditions. Pecan trees need a warm climate. Choose a sunny and well-drained area, such as a hilltop. Soggy areas will not be good for the pecan roots. You will need a large yard to house your tree- these trees can grow up to 100 ft. tall, with 50 ft. of branch spread. Make sure it’s not too close to other vegetation, as pecan trees produce a chemical that is toxic to other plants. Here’s another catch- if you ever want to get pecan nuts, you are going to need two pecan trees. The reason for this, is that pecan trees have male and female flowers that do not grow at the same time. Thus, in order to pollinate the flowers, there needs to be another type of pecan tree close by, who has different cycles of male and female flowers. Make sure to leave 60- 80 ft. between the two trees.
Preparing to Plant a Pecan Tree
Now that we’ve chosen an appropriate area for our trees, it is time to prepare the plant. Although theoretically this can be done from a fresh pecan nut, it is a slightly complicated process. For a beginning gardener, it makes more sense to use a seedling or a graft. It is best to plant the tree in January or February. If transferring a tree, don’t forget to prune the tree and roots. Cutting off the top third and side branches will ensure the roots are strong before they have to uphold a huge canopy. Soak the bare roots before planting them and straighten out the taproot.
After all the preparations are finished, we are ready to get to work. Dig a 3 ft. deep and 2 ft. wide hole. Place the plant in the soil, assuring that the soil line is even with the surrounding soil. Fill the hole, stopping midway to water, as well as watering again after it is completely filled.
How to Take Care of a Pecan Tree
In order to take care of your pecan tree, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Firstly, young trees need to be watered daily- about one gallon of water for each year of tree age. After the tree is five years old, once a week is enough. In order for the soil to retain its moisture, it helps to spread the root area with mulch. Each spring gives the tree a standard fertilizer mix. Keep a watchful eye for pests trying to get to your nuts before you do.
Fast-forward fifteen years ahead if you plant a seedling or 3-4 years for grafted trees, and it’s finally time to harvest. Harvest time is usually around early autumn. You know your tree is ready if the husks around the pecan nuts begin to split open. Simply lay a tarp on the ground and shake the tree. You can use a nut picker for the nuts on very high branches that did not fall off. After breaking open the husks, place the pecan nuts in a dry ventilated place for at least two weeks. You will know they are ready when the nut inside breaks apart easily. Shelled pecans can be stored for several months in a cool place. After being shelled, they will stay fresh if refrigerated for up to six months.