Pecan Nutrition

I visited a small pecan orchard on Friday — only about 30 trees.  The owner said that they had not produced well since Katrina.  The orchard was well maintained, but the trees were exhibiting poor growth.  I’m sure they took quite a beating during the hurricane.  As Katrina occurred in late August, not only did it wipe out the crop for 2006, but also 2006.  That was a huge loss to the tree itself.  It had already put quite a bit of reserve energy into the buds for the following year, but then were lost.  The owner did not add any fertilizer to the soil until this year, but how much he added was not clear.  He did have a soil test taken and it showed a very low K level.  Potassium is crucial to fruit development, so this could have a profound effect on his crop.  I did not see a N level, but pecan trees consistently need about 150 to 200 lbs of N per acre per year.  The recommendation on the soil test said to add about 9 lbs of Ammonium nitrate per 1000 sq ft.  This roughly works out to 133 lbs of actual N per acre.  For trees that have been so deficient, this is not enough.  I recommended that he double that for next year, just to see if he could get some response.  Unfortunately, with pecan trees the response to fertilization is not immediate.  It may take a year or two before the results are manifested.  The owner was hoping to take advantage of the high pecan prices, but in his case it may take a couple of years to get back up to a decent production level.



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