How to Fertilize a Pecan Tree

When it comes to farming pecan trees, you will either get a bumper harvest or get hollow shells with barely any pecans, which is all down to your tree’s nourishment. How do you ensure your pecan trees give you a bumper harvest year in year out? The key is to fertilize them when they need to be fertilized for optimal fertilizer utilization?

When to Fertilize a Pecan Tree

The best time to fertilize a pecan tree is late winter or early spring. You can also apply your fertilizer before it begins raining unless the forecast is for heavy rain, as this will wash away the fertilizer. The fertilizer should be used in two sessions, 30-45 days apart.

Ideally, the fertilization should occur before summer, as the excess heat can create a flush of tender growth. The trees are also dormant, and the fertilizer will do little to no good. It is best to fertilize your crop when it is green for optimum absorption of fertilizer nutrients.

How Do You Know it’s Time to Fertilize Your Pecan Tree?

When your tree lacks essential nutrients, it will portray malnutrition signs, just like any other organism would. Here are the symptoms to look out for to know if you need to fertilize your pecan tree;

  1. Hollow or poorly filled nuts
  2. Discolored leaf veins
  3. Curling leaves
  4. Brown or dead leaves
  5. Bare branches
  6. Yellow leaves

A key thing to note; fertilization timing differs depending on the soil type and environmental climate. If you are not sure if you should be fertilizing your pecan trees, you can reach out to other local farmers or your local Unites States Department of Agriculture (USDA) office for advice.

Additionally, you should know that the different soil types require more fertilizer than others and with varying nutrient concentrations. For instance, sandy soil requires more frequent fertilization with lower nitrogen content. While clay soils require slow-release fertilizer as they are nutrient-dense and do not need a sudden influx of nutrients.

What nutrients Do Pecan Trees Need?

  1. Zinc

This nutrient is essential for nut growth. It is mostly applied in spray form, which helps improve the absorption rate. The application is done every two to three weeks when the tree is young and gradually reduces once the tree is fully grown. Zinc sulfate is the most commonly used form of zinc. The mixing ratio is 2-3 pounds per one hundred gallons of water.

  1. Potassium

This is the third most crucial nutrient in most fertilizers. It strengthens the plant and aids in disease resistance. It also improves nut production and maintains the root systems and makes the tree resistant to cold weather.

  1. Phosphorus

This mineral is essential for converting other nutrients absorbed by trees into usable building blocks that can then be consumed by the pecan tree. It is found in most fertilizers. It is also crucial in flower blooming.  However, too much phosphorus can also prevent the proper absorption of other vital nutrients.

  1. Nitrogen

Nitrogen is essential for synthesizing amino acids, proteins, chlorophyll, nucleic acids, and plant enzymes. It is the most crucial element when it comes to plant nourishment. While this element is abundant in the air, plants cannot absorb it and can only get it from the soil.

  1. Nickel

This nutrient is used to make enzymes that help to metabolize nutrients absorbed from fertilizers and the soil. Nickel helps to convert urea in ammonia, which is critical for photosynthesis. It helps to break down urea in the ground and make it harmless as too much urea in the soil will destroy the pecan tree by killing the leaves. Thereby hindering its ability to synthesize light energy.

Types of Fertilizer to Use on Pecan Trees

The most commonly used fertilizer used for pecan trees is a 10-10-10 fertilizer with 2 percent additional zinc.  You can also find a premixed fertilizer with these ratios sold as pecan fertilizer. This is more convenient and eliminates the risk of poorly mixed fertilizer that can damage your tree.

If you want something ready-made, you can also make do with this Carl Pool Pecan Special Fertilizer, an 18-6-6 mixed with pecan trees in mind.

It would be best if you also used half a pound of 36% zinc sulfate fertilizer per half an inch of pecan tree trunk diameter every three years during the late winter period. Or you can use the regular 10-10-10 fertilizer and apply the zinc solution separately.

If your tree is too tall, you can spring for a fertilizer spreader to save time and make the fertilizer application process more manageable. To improve product yield, use an ammonium sulfate fertilizer.

How to Prepare a Pecan Tree for Fertilization

Water your tree thoroughly before you fertilize the tree. This will help the root absorb the fertilizer better if they are hydrated. Additionally, hydrated roots will prevent burning if the concentration is too high.

You should also prune the tree to ensure the applied fertilizer is not wasted on leaves that are not beneficial to the tree.

How do you fertilize a pecan tree?

Start by premixing the fertilizer solution or preparing your fertilizer for application. Then apply it around the entire root zone. The root zone usually extends roughly twice as wide as the canopy of the branches.

Apply the fertilizer one foot from the base of the trunk and spread it evenly over the root zone. If the soil is dry, water the ground lightly to help spread the fertilizer. If you are using a liquid fertilizer, apply it as directed by the manufacturer as usage varied depending on the nutrient content and functionality. In most cases, the called upon application requires spraying the leaves.

How much fertilizer does a pecan tree need?

This depends on the type of soil and the age of the tree. If you do not know the soil pH on your farm, you may need to carry out tests as this is essential for you to apply the perfect fertilizer mix. All you need is a home testing kit, and you are good to go. If you are unsure how to do it at home, you can get your soil tested in a lab.

However, the general rule of thumb is to use a pound of fertilizer per foot of the pecan tree height. So if your pecan tree is 5 feet tall, you will need five pounds of fertilizer. Or you can use the manufacturers instructions if you are in doubt. Then, split the amount into two as the application should be down in two parts a least one month apart.

Check this too: How to Save a Dying Rhododendron

Are coffee grounds good for pecan trees?

Yes. Pecan trees thrive in acidic soils. Additionally, coffee grounds act like compost and ass moisture and nitrogen into the soil. Nitrogen helps to support green growth, which is optimal for flowering. This helps to improve the general health of the tree and ensure it blooms and fruits in time and successfully.

Is Epsom salt good for pecan trees?

Yes. Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate, which improves flower blooms, which may lead to better propagation for a higher yield. Epsom salts also enhance the tress leaf color, which is excellent for photosynthesis. This, in turn, leads to high nutrition absorption, which is ideal for better pecan production.