can I save my pecan tree?

cousinfloydJune 13, 2012

I bought two potted (large, tall pots) pecan trees middle of this past winter. I'd guess they were grafted in 2010 (or maybe even 2009.) I kept them in a block building that we keep at least above freezing for the first month or two, then repotted them into larger pots I made by cutting the bottom out of a 4-gallon bucket and fixing it on top of another into which I cut drainage holes. I've kept them outside since I repotted them except for the hard freezes we had in April when I brought them into an unheated building. The one tree is doing just as I would have hoped. It's been fully leafed out for at least a month. The other tree had some bud swell a long time ago, but then those buds dried up and nothing has happened since. I figured the tree had just died, but I scratched the bark recently and it's still very healthy green looking. So my main question is whether I can do anything to save this tree? Should I put it in a sheltered, shaded location? In full, hot sun? Water it more or less? Wrap it in something to keep it from drying out? Put some chicken manure to it? Anything to get it to leaf out? My secondary question is what I might have done to cause this problem? Thanks!

Eric

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Eric:

Pecan aren't the easiest to start under the best conditions outdoors in good soil. I'd keep your tree in the shade and don't apply any manure or fertilizer. With no leaves it's not using much water. So don't keep it wet. That might be what went wrong, too wet.

Pecan are best planted in place during mid winter. I'd not plant one in a pot. At best that is only temporary.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 10:40AM
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cousinfloyd

Thanks, fruitnut. Ideally, I might have gotten the trees in the fall and planted them right away, and if I had known we'd have so much rain this spring I might have planted them this spring (although the late freezes would have been hard on them.) I also bought 2 pecan trees last year. I planted one and potted the other to plant later (in the fall.) The one that I kept in a pot for the extra year looks so much better now than the one that I planted directly. It had seemed to me that getting a really good, big root system built up before planting was really helpful for withstanding summer drought stress. And that was all that much more a consideration for me this time, because I want to plant these two trees where I won't very well be able to water them.
You may be right about the pots being too wet. Maybe I should cut even more drainage holes in that one pot. I don't suppose it will hurt, and I haven't got much to lose at this point.
I had planned to plant out both these trees this fall, by the way, as soon as the ground softens up again with whatever early fall rains we (hopefully) get.
Thanks again!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 8:12PM
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cousinfloyd

To follow up on my question from before, I noticed today that the pecan tree that never leafed out had a whole thick cluster of shoots growing from the trunk right at the soil line. None had opened up yet into leaves. The wood above the graft is still green, though, so I rubbed all those shoots off, hoping the tree might just yet somehow put some energy into the varietal portion. If it happens again should I give up and try to at least salvage a rootstock to graft onto next year (or the year after)?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 10:34PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Yes I would probably give up if it pushes shoots from the base again, and hope you get a rootstock instead of nothing.

I had an interesting pecan experiment this year, one bareroot tree from Englands put in last fall which looked very healthy when I put it in, and one small potted tree from Starks put in this spring. The potted tree is kicking the pants off the bareroot one, it looks far more healthy and has put on a lot more growth. Something to keep in mind if you are interested in growing pecans. Too bad Starks doesn't have a better variety selection.

Scott

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 12:34PM
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cousinfloyd

I just got to wondering about "forcing a bud." Isn't that a term? I don't really know what it means but I feel like I heard something about making a cut somewhere that makes a particular bud more inclined to swell and grow. This isn't something I could do with my pecan, is it? What if I pruned the scion back pretty hard? Would that help encourage one of the lower buds on the 2 yr old wood that didn't begin to swell earlier this spring?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 9:40PM
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