Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mouse ear and container grown pecan trees

Container grown pecan tree displaying "mouse ear" symptoms
     I like to transplant pecan trees in the fall. Fall planting allows the tree to develop new roots in the soil long before a new flush of leaves starts to develop the following spring. We use container grown trees for fall planting but it turns out that growing pecan trees in a soil-less potting media is not as easy as you might think. One of the most common problems associated with container growing of pecan trees is a nutrient deficiency called "mouse ear" (photo above).

Mouse ear leaf vs. normal pecan leaf
    Mouse ear symptoms include smaller that normal leaves and leaflets that have a more rounded appearance. The photo above illustrates the differences between a leaf displaying mouse ear (left) and a normal pecan leaf (right). 
    Mouse ear is a nutritional disorder caused by a lack of the micronutrient, nickel. Nickel is an important component of an enzyme used by pecan trees to transport of nitrogen from the roots to leaves. Nickel deficiency can be prevented by adding a nickel containing fertilizer to the potting media before planting or by making foliar applications of nickel during the growing season.  A product called Nickel plus has been developed for use on pecan trees.