Recently, I’ve been getting calls and emails about people wanting to buy an orchard or develop native/seedling trees into a marketable crop. Just when i think I’ve seen it all, somebody calls and they have a complete different situation. These are my recommendations for the prospective pecan grower in regards to pecan production.
First off, pecans take deep, well drained soil. Pecans have a very large and extensive root system. Their roots often extend twice the diameter of the drip line of the tree. Pecans also have a strong tap root to give the tree support. Many people say that the reason a pecan tree does so well is because of the tap root. The truth is, the most important roots of the tree are in the top three foot of soil. These feeder roots give the tree the water and nutrients that they need to survive. If a grower is to effective grow a crop, then the top of the soil should be managed well. In Texas, it is not uncommon to have 30 foot a rich fertile top soil in a river bottom setting.
Soil structure for a potential orchard is important. If water stands on the property, be leery of it because the culprit could be too much clay. Clay does not let the moisture from rainfall or irrigation permeate the soil profile. On the other hand, sand could also pose problems. Sand is very porous and does not have much water holding capacity. There are many pecan orchards planted in Texas and the United State that are planted on these kinds of soil. The optimum soils for growing pecans are a combination. Loamy soils have the water holding capacity similar to clay, but also have enough sand to make them well drained. Air is also a critical component of the soil structure. If an orchard were going to be planted, soil samples are a must.
As a general rule of thumb in Texas, if a healthy native pecan grove is on the property, similar soils would be suitable for pecan production.