15 year old pecan tree still not bearing nuts

wertach zone 7-B SCFebruary 16, 2013

I planted a pecan tree over 15 years ago. I forgot what kind it is but it was a grafted tree. I think it was called Desirable. It was 4' tall when I planted it.

It is about 12' tall and it has never had a single "bloom" on it. A Stuart than I planted nearby 7 years ago has already caught up with it in size, but it hasn't bloomed yet either.

They don't get full sun, only about 8 hours in summer. Could that be the problem?

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Stuart generally takes about 9 years to begin bearing, after grafting.
If your Desirable has only grown 8 ft in 15 years, it's either a really 'weak' tree, or is juststruggling in a poor site, or with poor soil fertility.
Productive nut trees are heavy nitrogen feeders. Have you ever fertilized?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 1:23PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

My Pawnee hasn't grown much in 7-8 years but it has been fruiting at least three. A grafted pecan shouldn't take 15 plus years. Even with only 8ft growth it should have a few nuts.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 4:13PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

Yes I have been fertilizing according to Clemson extension recommendations.

"4 pounds of a complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10 for each inch of trunk diameter (measured 4ý feet above soil level). This fertilizer should be applied in mid- to late February."

So that will be 8lbs. when I fertilize in a few days.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 10:41AM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)


Try some Zinc Sulfate 5 lbs each tree one application now along with 10-10-10 it want show up in nut production until 2014 but leaf size show all this spring and summer.
I'm betting Leaf very small on trees last few years.
It don't matter what soil test reports add zinc sulfate 20% if this don't turn tree around it to shaded.
A Pecan Tree will not set nuts if tree low in Iron not published but very important liquid Iron applied once ever 3 year in straight stream around tree in circle about 8 feet from trunk take care Iron needs garden center have liquid in pints use 5 tablespoons in gallon water per tree. Its important for tie ups you just use straight stream no broadcast on this one.
Even bearing junk iron are steel under tree limbs last many years half life time.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 1:02PM
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Our soil tends to be incredibly poor... It's generally lacking nearly every single Mineral needed for development.... You could be short on any one of MANY minerals like Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphate, Iron, and many Minor elements....

I would get a soil test.... because a 15 year old tree should be Significantly larger than 2" diameter.... It should be at least 6" + by now....


    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 10:16AM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

I bought some Zinc Sulfate and applied on your recommendation Gator.

The leaves are all full sized, I even pulled one off and compared it to my neighbors tree that is about 40 years old. Mine were bigger.

I have done a soil test and everything is good.

I believe it may be too much shade, it only gets sun from about 11 AM to about 6 PM during the summer.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 5:06PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

My wife's uncle planted a pecan grove over 20 years ago, about 80 acres. It took him 17 years before he got his first real harvest. Now he takes nuts out of there by the truckload. Pecans shouldn't take so long but he had a very laissez faire management approach. He never fertilized, but simply planted seedlings and grafted on them.

I've got a few pecans, but I'd like ask a question about planting a few more.

I'd like to keep them pedestrian height ( 8' tall) to keep crows from perching in them and squirrels living or seeking refuge in them, as I'd rather not provide more habitat for these varmints. I know I could keep pecans pruned to an 8' height but I wonder if they would ever produce at such a height? Any opinions?

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 5:59PM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

Because your last post I'm going to give one more thing to do Dapp as called 18-46-0 apply as would 10-10-10 4 pound per inch diameter.
There allway little none problem with hard wood tree the bark gets to tight on tree this happen because stunting. Low light low fertility low water all this can start with root stock care at nursery.
In my zone pecan starts green growth April 5th and go's to late Oct. are first 3 frost takes leaves off that how long pecan tree needs has to have 8 complete hours direct sunshine tree needs rays not just light. the ground needs lesser amount around tree for roots grass growing up to trunk is problem reason for clean row middle in Orchard planting only 30% ground under pecan tree needs be weed and grass free. Jug-lone from grass has effect on pecan and most other trees, but Walnut tree producing most as it drop more green parts tree Leaves shucks of nut drops.
Planting pecan tree 200 foot from other trees is important any number feet less is bad.
Large pecan trees Leaves are size of banana dayem that big but true.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 6:17AM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

I'd like to keep them pedestrian height ( 8' tall) to keep crows from perching in them and squirrels living or seeking refuge in them, as I'd rather not provide more habitat for these varmints. I know I could keep pecans pruned to an 8' height but I wonder if they would ever produce at such a height? Any opinions?

I have seen pecans growing on vineyard Trellis at Bryon Georgia pecan experimental station they used for many years growth retardant and unknown pruning style to me there was nut crop on trellis system. My visit was 1992.

Most pecan Nursery grow own scion wood by cutting older tree down to just low trunk some these trunk very large 50" are more diameter. The water sprouts amount into hundreds per stump but they become more than 8 feet tall I'm typing this to give some ideals dwarfing a tree. After fast growing pecan tree for 5 years this what I call well establish tree, butchering can begin cut tree down to size where pruning can be at very good level let a lot water sprouts develop stop all fertilization that year this help make water sprouts shorter and leaving to many until later every year prune out some sprout not all still no fertilizer next 5 years pecans should start to show up 8th year on the woody wood.
Pruning buds on pecan tree there 5 at bud union 2 are hard to see three most time can be seen top down names are primary, secondary, tentary all have growth habit different from next. Primary has three functions growth straight up, this makes trunk taller, and last primary bud produce nuts if on small limb off larger limb these can be called twig limbs are just twigs. A lot of primary buds will have to be removed from limbs all per limb so twig can develop from secondary are tentary along limbs you choose to stay on tree. There more but stop here with this its be hard to have 8 foot tree not so hard to have tree less than 20 foot once cut back tree it never grow back to ordinal size most grow back 11 feet.only. I don't think varmints care about tree height at least not here in my location.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 8:37AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Thanks Gator. I'd never heard of anyone trying to keep pecans at 8'. It sounds like, from your observation, it's doable.

I wanted to plant the pecans somewhat near my peach planting and didn't want to make a habitat for varmints to perch near my peaches.

Although I sometimes see crows in my backyard eating, at the farm I see them and other birds perching in tall trees. They seem to feel safer in those. I know squirrels prefer tall trees. I've never seen a squirrel nest or flee up one of my 8' peach trees. They always run to the tall trees.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 9:42AM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

Crows are very easy to control with large plastic Owl hanging from tree limb so wind move it, If you buy plastic owl and stick on post it never moves a crow land on top of it no fear of one that don't move. Leave hanging and swing all year your place be free crows the higher you can get owl the better one normally take care 5 acres real good. I did purchase 5 owls hanging type and never lost another pecan I bought 3 install on post crows would in week time land on those. The owls with swivel heads are not good for any control on crows. The hanging crows worked in Georgia and Texas for my pecan Orchards and work for peaches melons sweet corn. I never used my propane gun again.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 10:46AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Thanks Gator,

I'm generally pretty skeptical of bird scare methods, but it sounds like you've actually found something that works.

Do you hang the same plastic owls that are mounted on posts? In other words, do the plastic owls have to have their wings spread to make it look like they are flying, or do you simply tie a string around the neck of an owl that looks like it's perching, and let them swing?

If you happen to know the brand name (or a link) of the owls you've had success with, that would be perfect.

I may try this in my backyard to see if it works on robins too. They damage a lot of fruit.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 12:02PM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

The big Owls at agrisupply owls no wing spread. They have loop in top head to hang from.
I can't say they work on any other Bird just Crows. The Electric company use owls at transformer station for squirrels I don't no use method are how well work.
21" owl this one and good cord so throw over limb with rock are large nut tide on end a spinning reel may work then pull cord back over limb I use cord tied back to trunk tree leave owl dangling 6 are 7 foot from limb Larger cord less it cut into bark tree spinner may cut into bark and stop pull.

Not this owl swivel head type.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 1:16PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Thanks much Gator!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 3:14PM
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So... Back to the OP...

In general - Zinc is used to help with flowering and fruit set... It won't do much for a tree that's growing too slow....

Usually - there are 4 elements that you have to have for tree growth... and you gotta look at what's limiting.... Trees in a Forest will sit at some stable, small size for YEARS until some larger trees die/fall over - and then they SHOOT up to fill the hole....

So... We have:
Space for roots and branches

If you are only getting a few hours of light a day - and it's growing near/under LARGER trees - then likely Water, Light, and Space are all lacking....

First thing I would look at is to prune back the larger trees so you get more light - especially morning light if possible.... This is very important

Then, make sure you are watering plenty - especially through the heat of June thru August...... Large, mature trees can literally suck every drop of moisture out of the soil away from younger trees - especially in the heat of summer.... Might be worth looking into a soaker hose laying in the root zone of your Pecan...

That's where I would start since you already did a soil test to rule out mineral deficiencies....


    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 9:21AM
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