Pecan Nut Tree – Carya illinoinensis

By fruit bearing trees
March 20, 2010

Pecan Nut Tree or Carya illinoinensis is a species of hickory, indigenous to South-central North America. It is a large deciduous nut bearing tree, growing to 20-45 meters; taller trees have been claimed but not substantiated. Commonly the tree has a spread of 12-23 meters and with a trunk up to 2 meters in diameter. The Carya illinoinensis is a member of the family Juglandaceae the genus Carya.

Carya illinoinensis leaves are alternate, 30-45cm long, and compound with 9-17 leaflets, each leaflet 5-12 cm long and 2-6 cm wide. The flowers are yellow-green, wind-pollinated and monoecious, with male and female catkins on the same tree; the male catkins are pendulous, up to 18 cm long; the female catkins are small, with three to six flowers bunched up.

Pecan nuts are similar to walnuts in that the time of pollen shedding doesn’t all of the time overlap well with the time of female flower receptiveness to pollen. Hence, they sometimes need another cultivar for pollination because the timing of the functions of male and female flowers is dissimilar.

Pecan Nut Tree Fruit

The fruit of the Pecan nut tree is an oval to oblong nut 3-6 cm long and 1.5-3 cm wide. The nut itself is dark brown with a rough husk 3-4 mm thick that starts out green and turns brown at maturity, at which time it breaks open in four segments to free the thin-shelled nut.

Pecan nuts are edible, with a rich, buttery flavor. They can be consumed fresh or used in cooking, especially in sweet desserts. The nuts will keep for months in a fresh state in your refrigerator. In addition to nuts, the wood of the tree is as well used in making furniture and in wood flooring.

Pecan Nut Tree Propagation Methods

Tree propagation is by seed and by grafting. For best results, after gathering the Pecan nuts in the fall, they should be soaked in water for a day but for better germination, two days, before stratification. Pecan nut are placed in a container and covered up with tap water. An air stone attached to a small aquarium air pump is positioned in the bottom of the container.

The aeration is important; otherwise the nuts will shortly use up the oxygen in the water and die out. This pre-soaking handling is not absolutely necessary, but it assists in ensuring more uniform germination and growth in the springtime.

After pre-soaking, the nuts should be packed in a dampen material; sand or sawdust are time-honored packing materials and work well, in a container that has drainage holes. The container should be kept cold, preferably between 2°C and 5°C for three months, wrapped up in a plastic bag that is sealed loosely and placed in the refrigerator.

Nuts, once their three months stratification is accomplished, are planted outdoors in late winter to early springtime. In the first year you should have seedlings 20 to 45cm tall. You will need to graft the seedlings to a named cultivar, since pecan seedlings often will not be true to type from nuts.

Using grafted trees is by far the speediest formula to get a pecan orchard into production. The plant needs a full sun location and requires a well prepared soil. The first five years of development are the most crucial in developing a central leader and scaffold branch framework of the pecan tree. Functional development of Pecan Nut Tree on these years will be apparent 30 or 40 years later.

Carya illinoinensis trees may live and bear edible nuts for more than three hundred years. While most pecan varieties are self pollinating, two or more trees of different cultivars must be present for optimum to pollination. For example, the type I variety, Pawnee Pecan, with the type II variety, Sumner Pecan, tree.

No cultivar of pecan has got, of recently, as much praise as has the Pawnee Pecan tree for commercial orchard settings. This is a type I variety of Pecan tree that produces superior yields of Pecan nuts.

It is highly tolerant to winter frosts and keeps its leaves until late fall. If you would like to grow pecans for yourself from seeds, plant the seeds with the appropriate care, and your pecan trees will flourish and supply you with a crop of Pecan nuts for many years. The nuts of the Pawnee Pecan tree are large with a thin shell, somewhat lengthened.

Pawnee Pecan, a Type I variety, was bred to develop large pecans, very early on in the season, making this a financially gainful selection. The pecans from Pawnee mature in early autumn. The Pawnee Pecan is the sole pecan tree known to have considerable immunity to yellow aphids. It should be cross-pollinated with a type II variety such as the Sumner Pecan.

This is a type II variety of Pecan tree that also produces superior yields of Pecan nuts. It is known by the common name of Paper Shell Pecan. The Sumner Pecan tree is a productive nut tree that looks also terrific in the home garden. It will supply you with heavy loads of Pecan nuts for many years.

The Sumner Pecans matures later in the season, but it frequently brings the highest price at market because of its excellent quality pecans. This variety has very good resistance to pecan scab and numerous other leaf diseases. The Sumner Pecan should be cross-pollinated with a Type I variety such as the Cape Fear Pecan or Pawnee Pecan.

Pecan nut tree, Carya illinoinensis, Pawnee Pecan, Sumner Pecan

Fruit and Nut Trees

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