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How to Care for Pecan Trees in Georgia

Thanks in part to the optimal growing conditions in the state, farmers in Georgia produce over half of the pecans grown in the United States. And, with regular maintenance, gardeners can grow pecan trees at home. The most popular varieties for Georgia are Cape Fear, Desirable, Elliott, Schley, Stuart and Sumner. However, if you plan to harvest pecans, you must plant another complimentary variety of pecan tree in close proximity or your tree will not fruit.

Spread a 5-inch layer of organic mulch around the trunk of the tree, without letting it touch the trunk. Extend the circle of mulch just beyond the drip line of the tree.

Water your pecan tree. Pecan trees need a lot of water, and the amount largely depends on the age of the tree. Newly planted trees in Georgia need 1 gallon of water per day for the first year. Trees that are 2- to 3-years old need 1 gallon of water per day per year of age. Pecan trees that are 4 years and older need 2 gallons of water per day per year of age. The best way to water a pecan tree is to lay a slow-running hose at the base of the tree.

Fertilize your pecan tree if necessary. Newly planted pecan tree saplings should not be fertilized for the first year. After that, broadcast a 21-0-0 fertilizer around the tree at the drip line. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for exact amounts. But a rough estimate is 4 pounds of fertilizer per inch of your pecan tree trunk’s diameter. Pecan trees should be fertilized in early spring or late winter before the tree buds.

Prune your pecan tree periodically. Cut back any branches that grow too long or any that grow lower than 3 feet above the ground.

Apply a zinc sulfate foliar spray periodically. Spray new leaves once every 2 weeks from mid April to mid August. The best way to determine the amount of zinc sulfate spray is to test the trees leaves with a kit obtained from your local county extension office.

Tip

Squirrels are a major problem for pecan trees grown in Georgia. Young trees under 7 years of age should be protected with a rodent guard to keep squirrels from feeding on the trunk. Older trees should be protected with live squirrel traps baited with peanut butter.

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