Thursday, March 29, 2018

Young pecan trees need training

    It seems like we've been waiting for Spring to arrive for a long time now. But lets look on the positive side, a late spring gives more opportunity to get some dormant pruning done.  I've written extensively about pruning and training young pecan trees in this blog and I'll provide links to some of those posts at the end of this article.
   The photo at right shows a young pecan tree with a well structured canopy. But this didn't happen by accident. This tree was summer pruned each year to train the tree into a strong central leader form with well-spaced, wide-angle lateral branches.

    Left to grow un-pruned, a young, open-grown pecan tree will develop a bushy top with no clear central leader (photo at left). If this tree had received a little selective pruning during previous years, the tree would have grown taller and straighter. Fortunately for owner of this seedling pecan tree, removing most of the top of this tree to place a bark graft on top would give him the opportunity to train the scion into a well structured tree.

    Unfortunately, many folks never get around to training their young pecan trees. The seedling tree pictured at right could have been grafted 15 years ago and the tree trained into a central leader. However, the tree remained a seedling and was never pruned. As a result, this tree has developed numerous narrow branch angles and after 20+ years produces only a few small, native nuts.
   Training trees when they are young will ensure a strong trunk and a healthy branch framework (photo at left). I have posted numerous discussions of pruning to this blog. If you need pruning advice just type "pruning" into the search bar on this page to find these posts. However, I'd also like to point out 3 key posts. Since we are currently still in the dormant season you can start with "Pruning dormant trees".  Most of the basic principles and practices of tree training can be found in my 6 part series entitled "Training young trees". And finally, check out my discussion on training a successful graft. Grafted trees tend to grow fast and unruly so proper pruning is a must for developing a strong central leader tree. Click on the titles below to see these pages.

Pruning dormant trees

Training young trees (a six part series) 

Summer pruning a young grafted tree