Gardening

Why are pecans falling off? Many gardeners have hopes of getting lots of pecans from their trees. Unfortunately, they are often disappointed. Pecans growing in yards do not always produce nuts. Insects and diseases may keep nuts from filling out or make them fall before they mature.

What can we do to cure this? Not much. The trees are too large to spray and the chemicals we would use may be too toxic or hard to get. A friend of mine summed up the situation this way, when you plant a pecan tree, you are planting a shade tree. If God gives you nuts, be thankful! Home gardeners cannot expect a pecan crop every year.

Do not ignore your pecans though. A few tips may make the trees more useful and productive. Fall is a good time to plant pecan trees. Select the varieties that the University of Georgia recommends because of their disease and insect resistance. Call for a list from our publication, Home Garden Pecans.

Select the site carefully. Grow pecans in full sun and well away from houses and places where cars park. The aphids on the trees sometimes exude a sticky substance that can make vehicles and houses sticky and dirty. Soil sample and add lime and fertilizer as recommended. We generally fertilize pecans in February and early March.

Prune lower limbs so you can mow around the tree. We call these lower limbs headache limbs since this is what they cause when you try to mow close to the tree. Consider replacing the grass around the tree with mulch. This will help the tree to get water and nutrients and reduce your mowing headaches.

If you use an herbicide to kill the grass around the trees, do not spray heavily around the pecan trees. If you soak the soil around the tree with glyphosate (Round UpTm), it can get into the roots of the pecan and damage the tree. When using Round Up around trees, use it lightly. Only wet the leaves of the plant you want to kill, not the soil.

Pecans like lots of water as they fill their nuts. During the last two weeks of August, water the tree once a week with one to two inches of water. Even though it is later than this critical time now, the trees could perhaps still use the water. When watering, supply enough to wet the soil twelve to eighteen inches deep. Let the soil dry out between watering. Roots kept too wet can die. Do not water more often that once a week or whenever the soil dries out – whichever is less often.

Soil sample now and add lime if needed to raise the soil pH. Rake up leaves and pick up limbs just before harvest. This should make it easier to find the nuts.

Information for this article was provided by Willie Chance, CEA, and Houston County, GA.