Trees and Shrubs forum: Rehabbing old pecan trees in south Alabama...

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Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
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Intheswamp
Feb 25, 2018 8:44 AM CST
The old fence row surrounding our house used to separate the yard from the cow pasture. The fence row had been unattended for *many* years and a dense privet hedge thicket had grown out from it. This past year we had a massive clearing done which has left the area cleared beneath several oaks a couple of old chestnut trees and five old pecan trees. There were two more younger pecan trees but one apparently succumbed to the weight of the skid-steer running over its roots and later fell during a hurricane event last fall...it was loaded with pecans at the time. Sad All of the trees took somewhat of a beating from that one. The chestnut trees make great crops every year...I get to eat one every now and then when I can beat the deer to them. ;)

So we have five old trees and one young tree (~16"dbh). The old trees range in dbh from roughly 24" to 36"...I haven't measured, just eyeballing out the window. They haven't been fertilized nor limed in probably....50 years. Some are volunteers...some were probably planted. They all appear to make (from looking at the few pecans that I have seen) a "stewart sized" pecan...roughly 1-1/2"(?) long.

I've searched the Internet and I'm currently looking at going with this information: http://offices.aces.edu/tallap...
Here is a quote from that webpage that I'm considering following...
"Basically, if your trees are more than 25 years old you need 25 pounds of 13-13-13, 20 pounds of ammonia nitrate, 2 pounds of zinc, and 100 pounds of lime per year per tree."

Some websites mention trenching around the drip-line and putting fertilizer/lime/lye in the trenches. I'm not going to worry with the lye, but I'm wondering if digging trenches is worth the effort. Simply broadcasting seems good for my aging bones, plus, it would be a lot more nutrients than they've had in years.

Does the above quoted course of action seem good? Other thoughts or ideas?

Thanks,
Ed
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
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Name: Jim
Stroudsburg, PA (Zone 6b)
Greenhouse Region: Pennsylvania
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MoonShadows
Feb 26, 2018 1:15 AM CST
I know absolutely nothing about this subject, except I love to eat Pecans! Drooling However, it would seem to me that broadcasting these nutrients is better than nothing. I would imagine trenching is so they reach the roots faster and stay put where you place them, as opposed to some of it getting washed or blown away. If nothing has been done for the trees in all these years, whatever you do, while it may not follow the "prescription" exactly will sure be a plus for these trees.
MoonShadows Farm - Good Eats & Treats from the Pocono Mountains
Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
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Intheswamp
Feb 26, 2018 7:31 AM CST
Thanks for the feedback, Jim. That's what I'm thinking...something is better than nothing. The trenching I think is indeed intended to keep the admendment "in place"...and maybe give it a head start getting down to the feeder roots. Also, being consolidated in a trench would keep a lot of it from being used by grass, weeds, etc., but...there would be a nice green ring around the tree at it's drip line. Smiling

I'm probably going to go the broadcast route and *maybe* do a few short trenches around the drip lines. I sure which I had all of this figured out this past weekend...we've just gotten some good rain that would have done wonders in getting the fertilizers and lime started into the soil. Ah well, in time... Thumbs up
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
Name: Frank Mosher
Nova Scotia, Canada (Zone 6a)
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds Roses Clematis Lilies Peonies
Region: Canadian Photo Contest Winner: 2017 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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fwmosher
Feb 26, 2018 12:24 PM CST
Ed, as a Canadian, sailing his recently purchased 34' fiberglass sloop, made in Edenton, North Carolina, (THIS IS WAY BACK IN 1976), going down through the inland waterway to eventually the Bahamas, I think it was in Charleston when we spotted tons of pecans lying on the ground on some stately lawns. We took a chance, grabbed some bags, and started collecting. No one shot at us!! They were excellent, and although I have never been privileged to get to Alabama, save every Pecan tree you can!! Cheers!
Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Image
Intheswamp
Feb 26, 2018 8:09 PM CST
Nice story, there, Frank! Sounds like an adventure that me and my brother-in-law would've enjoyed a few years ago. Quiet the trip ya'll had!!! Thumbs up

I'll definitely try to save the pecan trees. Across the highway from me is an old pecan orchard. There's one or two of those old giants left over there...beaten and broken down. There would have to be lots of land clearing done to recover those old trees. I can remember as a 7 or 8 year old being left there to pick up pecans...my grandparents orchard and we got to sale what we picked up...a nice setup for a kid back in the '60's. Smiling Times have changed. Lots of memories on this place.

I called today to check on some fertilizer with zinc in it...the co-op said they sold the last they had the day before. I guess I could mix my own but some ready-mix seems better to me. I'd rather put organic fertilizer down but about the only thing I might could come up with would be some chicken fertilizer...and I think my wife would probably strangle me if I did that....it does have an aroma about it. Rolling on the floor laughing

South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
Name: Jim
Stroudsburg, PA (Zone 6b)
Greenhouse Region: Pennsylvania
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MoonShadows
Feb 28, 2018 3:55 AM CST
Ed...I recently saw a movie (Miracle in the Woods) from 1997 set against the backdrop of an old overgrown pecan grove.

Storyline: When Wanda (Patricia Heaton) and Sarah's (Meredith Baxter) mother dies and the estranged sisters inherit the family pecan grove, their conflicting plans for the future of the property are complicated by the appearance of a stranger claiming the land as her own in Arthur Allan Seidelman's feel-good drama. Despite Sarah's best efforts to keep the pecan grove in the family, a dark secret drives Wanda to pursue the prospect of selling the land. As the conflicted sisters struggle to find a common ground, the discovery of an elderly woman named Lilly Cooper (Della Reese) who claims the land prompts the curiosity of Sarah's teenage daughter (Anna Chlumsky), who becomes determined to learn the secret of the mysterious squatter's past.

Thumb of 2018-02-28/MoonShadows/55b288

MoonShadows Farm - Good Eats & Treats from the Pocono Mountains
Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
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Intheswamp
Feb 28, 2018 8:26 AM CST
Jim, I actually have a kind of empathy towards that story line....except for the elderly lady part. On a slow night I might have to look that movie up!
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling
Name: Jim
Stroudsburg, PA (Zone 6b)
Greenhouse Region: Pennsylvania
Image
MoonShadows
Feb 28, 2018 10:13 AM CST
The elderly lady actually makes the movie good. Smiling
MoonShadows Farm - Good Eats & Treats from the Pocono Mountains
Name: John
Scott County, KY (Zone 5b)
You can't have too many viburnums..
Region: United States of America Region: Kentucky Farmer Cat Lover Birds Bee Lover
Butterflies Enjoys or suffers hot summers Enjoys or suffers cold winters Dog Lover Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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ViburnumValley
Mar 3, 2018 9:15 PM CST
Hi Ed:

Before you (or anyone older or younger) spend any effort or money on fertilization or otherwise amending conditions around these trees: Pay for a soil test!

Orcharding and care for Pecan trees is certainly a well-known situation - and it is based on knowledge of existing site conditions. If you don't know what that is for these trees, then you are just blindfolding yourself and throwing darts.

All the recommendations that you have read or would read from any source will be based on known conditions - otherwise, the information is useless and unfounded.

I like Pecans myself, and my wife produces some wonderfully tasty chocolate/bourbon/pecan pies in season. This species is not prevalent in KY, but southern states produce enough to keep us happy. I hope you succeed in keeping your older trees healthy and productive.
John
Name: Ed
Crenshaw County, South Alabama (Zone 8b)
Image
Intheswamp
Mar 4, 2018 9:46 AM CST
Thanks for the feedback, John. What I'm looking at doing is indeed not from a soil test, but rather what the Alabama Pecan Growers Asscociation states for "rules of thumb". A soil test would probably be the prudent thing to do and I'm considering having one (or two) done. This is going to most likely be a worst case scenario...no fertilization or pH management in at least the last thirty to forty years. The last fifteen to twenty years the ground has been covered with privet hedge bushes, yaupon holly bushes, weeds, etc.,. The rotting limbs and leaves that fell from the trees were mostly been left to rot in place.

Fertilization...good guess, but from all the rotting matter, it might be a surprise what it needs or doesn't need. It should be high in organic matter but what actual nutrients will be there is an interesting question.

I'm figuring the biggest issue to work on is the pH which I feel is very acidic. Soil in south Alabama usually always has a low pH and requires liming...crop fields, pastures, hay fields, orchards, lawns, etc.,....I'm sure there's exceptions in areas of limestone outcroppings, etc., but the usual report states a need for liming. I've got a small pH test kit that I compared against Auburn's report last year and it showed to align with Auburn's results, I may do a little testing with the kit in the next day or two just to see where it says the pH is.

It is understood that pecan trees need annual fertilizer applications. Not having any fertilzer for the last 30+ years tends to nudge me in the direction of the growers association's recommendations which is towards the maximum.

We'll see... Smiling
South Alabama - 8a/8b
The Enchanted Land of Humidity
www.beeweather.com
2017 Garden Photo Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm1zSVfK
“It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.”
― Rod Serling

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