Did you know that Georgia is the nation’s largest supplier of pecans? In fact, the Georgia crop accounts for about one third of the United States’ total pecan production. That translates into an average pecan harvest of about 88 million pounds – that’s enough to make about 176 million pecan pies!
Regardless of whether you call them “Pea-Cans” or “Pa-Khans,” pecans are probably the favorite tree nut of most Georgia gardeners. UGA Extension provides both commercial and home pecan growers a variety of information to help have the best output with the least amount of labor possible.
First of all, just like any plant, for pecans to thrive they need to be planted in the right place. Lucky for us, pecans perform well in the Coastal Plain areas of our state, though they do not do well in the Georgia mountain regions. So, if you have friends and family in north Georgia, they’re better off planting apples than pecans.
Second, homeowners cannot physically spray pecan trees in their yard to prevent diseases. It requires a powerful commercial air blast sprayer to get adequate spray coverage on the leaves of a tall pecan tree. Raking and destroying fallen leaves and shucks during the winter will help with disease control.
The best defense for homeowners is to select pecan varieties that are resistant to common pecan diseases like scab. Even resistant varieties can have disease problems if the weather conditions are unfavorable. Some scab resistant varieties include Excel, Elliot, Amling, and Gloria Grande. Always plant at least two varieties to ensure good pollination.
A lot of problems can be avoided if you select the proper site for your pecan trees. Plant them away from your home and other buildings. Pecan trees reach a very large mature size and their wood tends to be brittle and prone to breakage. Pecans also have the reputation of being a “trashy” tree. They drop a lot of debris like twigs, branches, and nut husks.
In addition, they are frequently infested with aphids. That results in sap and sooty mold accumulating on objects below. I wouldn’t plan on parking my new white car under a pecan tree! If you have a white board fence below your tree you will become very well acquainted with a paintbrush.
It is important to establish them correctly. Use about one pound of 10-10-10 distributed in a 25 square foot area around new trees after planting. Repeat this application in July. As trees grow the fertilizer rate must be increased. Request a copy of our free bulletin Home Garden Pecans for details.
Depending upon variety, pecan trees may not bear a significant crop of nuts until they are six years old or older.
A number of insect pests are fond of pecans. Once again, since we can only reach a few bottom limbs spraying is out of the question. Instead, we must rely on sanitation. Picking up fallen limbs, twigs, and infested nuts will help keep most common pests down to acceptable levels.
Even with a recommended variety, good fertilization and excellent sanitation practices, pecan trees in our area tend to be inconsistent producers. One year you will have a bumper crop of nuts and the next year may be a total bust. Environmental conditions play a bigger role in production than our poor ability to manage a pecan tree in the landscape.
I like to eat pecans as well as the next person, but after living in a house that had mature pecan trees in the yard, I believe there are better choices for yard trees. But, if you enjoy pecans as much as my grandmother then that’s a different story. Plant them and enjoy! I just wanted you to know what to expect.
Any questions? Contact the Liberty County Extension office at 912-876-2133 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. See the UGA website at www.ces.uga.edu or come by the office at 100 Main St, Suite 1200, Hinesville. We are located on the first floor in the Historic Courthouse downtown.