Rich, tasty and delicious, pecans are a native American nut. A semi-hardy tree which can only be grown in USDA Zones 6 through 9 and warmer. Grown in commercial orchards, the University of Georgia Extension recommends they be planted 50 feet apart; plant your pecan tree where it will have adequate space in which to grow and mature.
Long Growing Season
Most varieties of pecan flower early in spring and ripen their nuts in late fall. They need a long frost-free growing season to ensure that their flowers do not succumb to a late spring frost and their nuts fully develop in autumn. A frost-free period from February through November is required to grow pecans.
Deep, Fertile Topsoil
Native to river valleys with deep, fertile topsoil, cultivated pecans require topsoil with a depth of 4 to 6 feet for optimal health and growth. They prefer sandy loam soil, but will grow on heavy clay soil if it is well-drained. Pecans grown in areas with lighter, sandier soil and sparse rainfall need supplemental irrigation.
Deep Water Table
Pecans have shallow root systems and will benefit from a location with a water table at least 6 feet beneath the surface of the soil. A high water table will limit the available area for roots to grow, creating smaller root systems which limits the amount of water the tree can utilize, especially in times of drought.
Water should drain readily after a rain in the area surrounding the pecan tree's planting site. Even though pecans are native to river valleys and require a lot of water, standing water is fatal to them. It deprives the roots of oxygen, which will cause the trees to produce smaller crops, until they eventually die.
Upland Planting Site
Low-lying planting sites can restrict the flow and movement of air around the trees, which can contribute to fungal diseases. Cold air also settles in low-lying areas, which makes trees planted there more susceptible to cold-related injury. Plant pecans on a gently sloping or flat upland site to facilitate air movement and allow colder air to settle below the level where they are growing.