Q: I just moved into a house which has pecans growing in the yard. How do I take care of them – they seem to have been neglected.
A: We would suggest you start by having the soil tested to determine any nutrient imbalances. The Extension Office will have soil test kits and an overall nutrient test will only cost $7. Once you get the test back from the University of Florida, please give me a call and I can go over the analysis with you. Mature pecan trees can be heavy users of water and nutrients. Regarding the appropriate nutrients, when possible, homeowners should purchase fertilizers specifically formulated for pecans as they will contain minor elements necessary for best fruit formation. Zinc is often unavailable to pecans if the soil pH is over 6.0 but it is a common additive in pecan fertilizers. The symptom of zinc deficiency is crinkling of the leaves and small leaf size. Fertilization should be done in February and June with large trees measuring over 2 feet in diameter needing 60-120 pounds of fertilizer at each session. Irrigate about ¼ inch of water immediately after applying fertilizer to allow nutrients to reach absorbing root structures. One other important thing to know about pecans – they often are alternate bearing which means they produce pecans heavily one year and the next year will not bear as heavily. February is also the month to prune any dead, diseased or broken limbs. Pecan trees have very weak limb attachments so do not allow heavy infestations of Spanish moss to grow along the limbs. Spanish moss can be mechanically removed any time of year. If you want to grow your own pecans, choose ‘Cape Fear’, ‘Elliott’ or ‘Moreland’. Attached is a UF/IFAS publication on pecans: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/hs229