Waiting on pecans

christie_sw_mo(Z6)September 19, 2008

I have a half grown pecan tree with a bunch of pecans on it this year. If I wait until they drop, I think the squirrels and other wild critters will get them before I do. Has anyone ever picked them off the tree instead of waiting?

I need to figure out how to make candied pecans like Poppycock...only sugar-free. I found a Splenda recipe online and going to try it this time. We'll have black walnuts too but I don't like those as well. I've been trying to convince my kids that they can make a lot of cash picking up walnuts. : )

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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Where are the dogs? It is their job to chase the squirrels.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 5:33PM
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: ) Helen - They're on the wrong side of the fence.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 8:49PM
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They aren't quite mature enough yet to harvest. When the hulls crack open to expose the nuts, shake the tree trunk each day and those that are mature will fall out. Then it becomes "stoop labor" to pick them up!
Do you just have one tree? You can increase the the yield, size and quality of the nuts by growing two or more varieties of tree, for cross pollination. A second tree should be located within 25ft., because they are cross pollinated by the wind, like corn.
What species of squirrels do you have? The gray's bury the nuts, so you will have seedlings all over the place, if they get to them.
I have a recipe for Peace Pecans, using white chocolate, if you are interested.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 2:44AM
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Lucky you! When did you plant the tree or was it already there? Do you know what variety it is? Lots of questions, I know, but I have never seen one growing in SW Mo before.

I wonder if you could lay old sheets under the tree to catch the nuts as they fall.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 5:53AM
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ceresone(missouri ozarks)

Gldno, my sis had a huge pecan tree as long as I can remember, it must've been at least 75 years old when lightening struck it.
I have 4 pecan trees that I planted about 30 years ago, their pecans are still a little on the small side, I understand it takes time for them to mature.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 8:19AM
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The pecans are from one of two trees that we planted around 15 years ago or maybe longer ago than that. A friend had gotten some little seedlings from the MO Dept. of Conservation and he gave us a couple. The other tree hasn't gotten any pecans on it yet. I didn't know they needed to be planted so close together. I'm guessing these may be about 40 feet apart and the wind pollination may explain why one of the trees has never had any pecans on it. The one that's baring is a little larger also so that helps.
I have at least three more smaller trees that I started from pecans that Lucky sent me a few years ago but it takes quite awhile for them to get big enough to bare nuts.
We have both gray and red squirrels but mostly gray. I find walnut trees coming up here and there all over my yard. They even bury walnuts in my containers on my porch. I'm sure there are other critters that go after pecans. My dad has had trouble with crows getting his.

RB - The Peace Pecans sound good but unless it's sugar-free, don't tempt me. lol

It would be great if the pecans on mine get larger as the tree matures. That didn't occur to me. They ones I got last time were on the smallish side but had a good flavor. I don't think it had any at all last year after that late freeze.

The MO Dept. of Conservation should have pecan trees on their list when they start taking orders for their seedling bundles this fall.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 10:37AM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

I think the pecans with big, thin shelled nuts are grafted. I have heard of grafting small branches on to grown trees which grow into big limbs that bear bigger nuts.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 10:25AM
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bunny6(7 AR)

Christie you are so lucky. I always wanted pecan trees, but I already have too many large trees. Grantma told me that you neeeded to plant at least two of them, and now I know why after reading the post.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 12:53PM
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ceresone(missouri ozarks)

Christie, my pecans have started falling now--and they're a lot bigger this year! I guess it just takes maturity for them to get large. I'm filling up a 5 gallon bucket pretty fast.
Another thing I've found interesting--Starks has Zinc Sulphate for pecans.Says its critical for pecan trees. I'm thinking of ordering it early next year. Says to apply 1#per 100 sq. ft. in early spring.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 8:36AM
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Do you all know how old your trees are? This is what they mean when they say the best time to plant a tree was yesterday! I should have planted 20 years ago! I am still interested though....my grandkids may live here someday.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 8:56AM
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Most of the descriptions I've seen say it takes 5-7 years for a pecan tree to bare if you get a grafted variety but a little longer than than if you just plant a seedling like I did. The drawback is that the grafted varieties aren't as tough but maybe it would help to get one that's recommended for Missouri. I found a PDF with recommended varieties and lots of other info and will post the link.

The same article mentions zinc deficiency. It says:

"If trees are grown in sandy soils, or soils
with a basic pH (7.0 and above), zinc foliar sprays
are often necessary to prevent zinc deficiency".
The symptoms are:
"Leaflets yellowish, mottled, narrowed, and crinkled. Reddish-brown spots may appear then later drop out to give leaves shot-hole appearance"

Sounds like your tree is doing great Ceresone so you might just want to watch for symptoms. I'm jealous of your five gallon bucketful. I'm sure I won't have that many.
I shook a couple limbs pretty hard on my tree today and nothing fell. I'm tempted to pull a few off before the squirrels do though. : )

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing Pecans in Missouri

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 10:40AM
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I came upon this thread and saw that it is a bit old, but maybe I can answer a couple of questions if any of you are still checking this. Some of you probably know a lot of this already:

Native pecans can take anywhere from 7 years to 20 years to produce any pecans (if ever), while almost all grafted varieties are less than 10 years.

One of the trees that does best at my spot is the Peruque pecan which is a native pecan from Missouri. It is not big, but it produces regularly, is thin shelled, matures early, and has a good and strong tree shape. Some other pecan cultivars that originated as native in Missouri are Norton, James, Starking Hardy Giant, and Warren 346. These are not as big as most "papershells" but will ripen early enough to not get frozen most of the time in MO. There are other good choices like maybe Kanza and Pawnee depending on the situation.

The size of pecans will vary a little from year to year on the same tree. Generally they are larger if they get more rainfall during June-August and if they don't have pecan scab problems. Trees will usually make larger pecans when they are young just because they have fewer nuts per canopy area when young so the nauts have more water and nutrients available compared to older trees that have big loads some years and few during the other years.

One pecan tree can generate enough pollen to pollinate every pecan in the world, so as long as you get a little luck with dry, breezy days when they pollinate in about late May, you will have no problems as long as the trees are compatible with their pollen shed and receptivity. The trees can be hundreds of feet apart, but the closer the better up until about 40 feet. That close and you will have them crowding each other after a couple of decades.

Once a few pecan shucks start opening, you can go around and slightly squeeze them along the suture lines and any that pop open are ready to pick if you want. They will need to dry out for a week or two before cracking, though.

The zinc sulfate may help the tree, but likely only if you have a low pH and if the tree is deficient in zinc, which you can check my looking for wavy, misshapen leaves.

Hope that helps someone.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 2:00AM
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Thank you Scott! You posted some very helpful information and you reminded me to go check my tree this morning. I found several husks that had split with no nut to be found so something got to those before I did. I pulled as many as I could reach. I confess I didn't test any to see if they would pop. Hope they will still be ok. I wonder if it's better to leave the husks on for a few days.
What happens if I got them too early? Does it affect flavor or storage or both? I pulled a few off the tree about a week to 10 days ago and cracked those today. They tasted ok to me but I think they weren't as dry as they should be.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 9:40AM
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Take them out of the shuck and let them sit in the house somewhere warm for a week or so. Keep them in some type of container so any weevil that come out will not start crawling around your house.

You should not have any left that have not matured by now unless they are some southern grafted variety. Since you have had a hard freeze (right?), the only ones whose shucks have not opened may have some other problem like weevil damage.

If you got them only a few days too early, they may still be good, but if they are much at all before maturity, they may not be any good. I don't really know much about that though. If they are ready, then the shuck should come off easily and I'd take them off as soon as you pick them. I wouldn't try to pick them before they split though.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 11:18AM
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ceresone(missouri ozarks)

Well, there goes my 5 gallon of pecans on the compost pile! I'm still not seeing any fall without the shell tho.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 3:25PM
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Ceresone - Did you crack any to see what they looked like inside? Hope at least some of them are ok. A couple sites I looked at recommended picking up the ones that fell too early with the shucks still on and putting them in the trash to keep the pests from spreading. Is there anything left on your tree?

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 7:36AM
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ceresone(missouri ozarks)

Yes, Christie, there are a few left on the tree, but I think the majority fell early. And, yes, I did crack a few-all bad. I noticed a tiny hole in the husk too. I dont think I've ever seen a spray for pecans, either.
Glenda, I didnt know how old my pecan trees were, untill I noticed the aeriel shot of our place taken in '93. Hard to believe, they, and my huge sugar maples werent there then.
More amazing was the tiny fir in the front yard, probably 2'tall then-well over 40' now

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 8:15AM
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If those holes in the shells are about the size that would allow you to push a sharpened pencil in to just past the lead, then they are pecan weevil holes. If they are just tiny little puncture holes, they could be a couple of other things.

For just a few trees in your yard, there are two solutions to weevils, but they will not get rid of all of them. The first is to get some Tanglefoot or simialr sticky substance and put it around the tree at the tallest place you can reach and below the first branch. The second is a Circle trap (enough to circle each tree you have). You can probably find someone who sells them by contacting the university pecan people in your state.

Along with these two types of traps, you need to remove the branches that hang down near the ground and keep the grass mowed short starting in late July. These two trapping methods should start in late July. Any later and you will miss some. You will miss some anyway, but the traps will help a lot. The weevil mostly come out of the ground after rains and fly or walk to the nearest trunk, but a lot will fly directly into the low branches or fly to your pecan tree from nearby trees. There is no total solution except using Sevin in a giant (airblast) sprayer.

IMPORTANT: 90% of pecan weevil have two-year cycles, so the ones that ate your pecans this year will mostly emerge as adults from the soil in Aug-Sept 2010 to look for pecans or hickories to lay eggs in then.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 10:21AM
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ceresone(missouri ozarks)

Scott, you're so helpful.
I saw apples this year that werent sprayed, and were perfect. She has been told to keep a heavy layer of VASELINE from the ground to first limbs. I'm going to get funny looks, I know, but my fruit, and now my peacans, are going to wear a vaseline coat come next year.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 12:10PM
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Just remember to put the ring of sticky stuff as high as you can so that you catch most of them. They often fly to the trunk, but usually not more than 6 or 8 feet tall. I don't know if vaseline will hold them, but I have read that tanglefoot will. I use circle traps.

The number of weevil you see next year will be directly correlated to how many were there in 2007.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 1:03AM
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U.of MO Center for Agroforestry probably has lots of info available on pecans(as well as hickories, walnuts, & chestnuts) that will perform well in MO. I know a couple of the researchers at the New Franklin research farm.
Native pecans grow at least as far north as Brunswick, where the James & Starking Hardy Giant varieties originated.
MDC tree nursery probably has native pecan seedlings available many years, and Forrest Keeling Nursery, in Elsberry, used to offer both select seedling and grafted varieties. Stark Bros. usually has a small offering of reasonable northern/midwestern varieties, but the best source of grafted northern pecans is Nolin River Nut Tree Nursery(linked below)
Some varieties are more susceptible to weevil infestation than others - Most years, weevils get the majority of nuts on the Peruque(small nut, with really thin shell and high quality kernel, which originated at St. Charles) tree here - and bluejays/crows get the rest, while Major and GreenRiver, less than 100 ft away, are unscathed. Posey, another thin-shelled variety, originating in IN is also more weevil-prone than the KY selections Major & GreenRiver.

Peruque nuts have been dropping since late September, but Major, GreenRiver, and Posey have just started dropping within the last week or so. I've got some Southern pecan varieties growing here that still haven't reached shuck-split yet.

I'll second scott's recommendation on the Circle Traps(developed by Tom & Edmund Circle)as a good choice in helping with weevil control.

Here is a link that might be useful: Nolin River Nut Tree Nursery

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 9:23PM
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Thanks Scott and Lucky
Here's a picture of my total haul: I had to throw away about a forth that looked like the nut in the second photo. Click to enlarge. The husk doesn't come off completely and the nut isn't formed inside. They were still on the tree. Do you know if that's caused by some sort of pest? I have never seen weevils in mine but had a few in 06 with some sort of larva inside.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 7:17AM
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They're called 'sticktights' - the shuck doesn't split, and remains tightly adherent to the nutshell. It's almost always a result of infection with the pecan scab fungus

Here is a link that might be useful: Pecan Diseases -MU Ag. Extension

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 7:52AM
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If it's pecan scab fungus, would it only affect SOME of the nuts and the rest would be ok like mine? I really don't want to spray. As long as I can get a few good ones every year, I will just leave it alone but if it's something that will keep getting worse, I should do something.

I'm not sure why, but when I clicked to enlarge my thumbnails it didn't work. I had an extra photo on there and may have messed it up when I deleted it. I'm going to try again with this one.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 9:15AM
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It's really hard to give you a specific cause of the problem without being around the trees in Aug and September. Scab is what causes most of the problems with shuck opening, and the degree of scab problem will vary a bit from nut to nut on the same tree, with the nuts higher up usually the ones with less problems.

However, you can often see similar appearing problems when hickory shuckworm infestation is bad enough to cause bad deterioration in some shucks, or when the weevils "probe" the nuts at just the right development stage to cause them to "rot" but not drop, or when you get a freeze before the shucks start to open, or even if you have a large cropload with some tree nutrient problems.

Break open the shucks and look for little worms in the shucks themselves, and crack open the nuts of the ones whose shucks didn't open and see if they are still good inside. It is still most likely a scab or other husk disease problem, but if this is the case you would have seen signs of it by late August or early September with a lot of shucks on the trees showing the blackening of scab.

This year was not as bad as last year for scab development where I am, but it was still a very bad scab year for me. I have many trees where almost all of them look like the one you showed us.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 9:49AM
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Here's what they look like cracked open. It may be hard to tell from the photo but the nut is like two flat pieces of paper with nothing inside, just a hollow shell.

There were no worms inside the nuts or the husks and they stayed on the tree until I pulled them off this week.
I don't remember what they looked like back in August and September but will look at them more closely next year and will look at the leaves too for signs of problems also.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 10:43AM
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Could very well be scab, but I can't rule out a few other possibilities.

Generally speaking, on my scab-susceptible trees during humid/warm summers, the scab will cover much of the shuck area and the pecans will not develop to their full size. Then the shucks will not split open except at the very tip, with the rest stuck to the nut to some extent. Usually the pecan inside is of lower quality but still edible, although some become worthless. It depends on when the scab develops during the season and how bad the scab becomes before shell hardening.

If it is scab, the shuck will darken well before the pecans mature and before the shucks split. If the shucks stay relatively clean through September, then it could be a tree nutrition issue or some other problem like insects damaging them before they are mature.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 2:02PM
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I think all my pecans were green until very recently, but I don't remember for sure. I may do a soil test just out of curiosity. The leaves that are not frost damaged look healthy.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 3:53PM
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I wish I could help more. Every native pecan tree has its own personality and when you mix in variations in soil, annual weather, insects, and tree age it can get complicated.

A soil test may not help much, but a leaf analysis would be very beneficial. It may not be worth the cost for just one tree though. You can have them done through the Noble Foundation for about $15-$20 I think. Search for Noble Foundation Leaf Analysis or talk to you local university nut specialist.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2008 at 4:02PM
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