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How to Feed Pecan Trees

By Sarah Terry ; Updated September 21, 2017

To ensure good nut production, you must fertilize your pecan trees properly. Pecan trees often suffer from zinc deficiencies, which cause the branches to grow thick knots of leaves at the tips and limit pecan production. The best way to determine exactly how to feed your pecan tree is to analyze the soil. Take a soil sample near the roots of your pecan tree and have it analyzed by your county agricultural extension office. The soil analysis will give you an accurate picture of the soil properties, including nitrogen and zinc deficiencies. In the absence of a soil test, you can use some basic guidelines to feed your pecan trees.

Measure the width of your pecan tree’s trunk at chest height in inches.

Spread 1 pound of 10-10-10 NPK (nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium) granular fertilizer for every 1 inch of trunk thickness that you measured. Fertilize the pecan tree at this rate once in mid- to late February, once in June and again in September.

Broadcast the granular fertilizer in a ring around the tree, beginning at 3 feet away from the trunk. Spread the fertilizer so that it extends 2 or 3 feet past the canopy’s farthest-reaching branches.

Feed your pecan tree 1/2 pound of 36 percent zinc sulfate for every 1 inch of trunk thickness, up to 10 pounds per tree. Apply the zinc sulfate once per year in the spring in the same manner as the complete fertilizer.

Water the soil around the pecan tree thoroughly immediately after broadcasting the fertilizers to allow the granules to dilute and seep into the soil.


Things You Will Need

  • Measuring tape
  • 10-10-10 NPK granular fertilizer
  • Zinc sulfate, 36 percent
  • Garden hose
  • 17-17-17 NPK fertilizer (optional)
  • Hose-end sprayer (optional)


  • You can use a 17-17-17 NPK fertilizer instead of a 10-10-10, at a rate of 4 cups for each 1 inch of trunk thickness. Apply the 17-17-17 NPK fertilizer once in February and again in June.


  • Don't ignore a soil test that reveals extremely alkaline soil around your pecan tree. If your soil pH is 7.0 or higher, spray the zinc sulfate on the pecan tree's foliage instead of applying it to the soil. Spray the foliage with a solution of 2 teaspoons of zinc per 1 gallon of water once right after buds break, once in April or May and again in mid-June.

About the Author


Sarah Terry brings over 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.