The Q&A Archives: Pecan Tree falling over

Question: I have a pecan tree aprox 15 yr old tree that is falling over 10 to 15 degrees. It is a volunteer tree that came up in my asparagus bed, and since it was in the row, I have just tilled around it for at least 15 years. It is now as tall as a two story house and bears nuts.

We had had a month of steady rain and when hurricane Cindy passed through it spawned an energy burst that took three of our 100+ pecans and miscellaneous other trees, however this tree was not affected. A few days later, an more rain and it began to lean.

We've had a couple tree companies here cutting and cleaning up the other trees but none of the men on these crews seem to know what to do with my this young tree.

Could it have a disease problem, or some other problem?? What would I look for. Is there some way to 'stake' it up? on the outside roots there is a sunken place, does this mean anything or is it where the roots have pulled loose?

I have put a landscape timber on the side that is leaning to try to stop it from leaning further- but I don't think this is any kind of a permanent solution.

Lin Hatch
Conyers, GA

Answer: Lin,

A tree that age and size is going to be difficult to straighten. The goal is to pull from two directions to hold it upright and in place. Imagine a bird's eye view of the tree with it leaning in one direction, which we'll call 12 o'clock. You need to attach two guy wires (actually more likely small cables) around the trunk above a limb pulling from the 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock directions to move it back upright or just past upright a little. Make sure and put a section of water hose through the guy wire to prevent it from cutting into the tree trunk.

Move it upward slowly. If the leaning tree left an opening under the trunk, rain may have washed soil down into the hole. Thus when you try to upright the tree this could be a fulcrum point that resists against your pulling and may result it snapping some roots. So if this is the case dig this area out just a bit before pulling the tree upright. When it is upright firm soil in around the roots.

Leave the cables in place for about a year. Then loosen them but don't remove them for another 6 months or so. You don't want the cables to damage the trunk and branches which can happen if they are kept to tight for too long. It will take time (several years) for the tree to regrow roots that can really be strong enough to anchor it better. In fact this tree may always be weak and prone to leaning in that direction so if there is something of value such as a building in that direction it may be a better long term solution to remove the tree and replant.

Thanks for the question. Please stop in again soon!

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