Published on 02/05/98

February Is Pecan Planting Time in Georgia

February is the best month to plant pecan trees in Georgia.

Nursery trees are usually available from mid-January to the end of March. But it's important to pick up trees early and plant them right away. This enables the roots to become established before tap growth occurs in late March or early April. This means better survival.

If the trees can't be planted immediately, then heel them in. This requires digging a ditch or trench, placing the trees at a 45-degree angle and covering the roots with damp soil or mulch. Heeling-in prevents drying and cold damage to the small roots.

When you plant, dig the holes large enough to accommodate all the roots without crowding. This is usually a hole 24 inches across and 36 inches deep.

Make sure you plant the tree at the same depth it grew in the nursery. Planting trees too deep is a common problem and results in rot and poor root development.

Trees planted too deep will blow over in six to 10 years because of poor root support. It's usually better to plant a little shallow than too deep.

Place the tree in the hole at the proper depth, then fill in layers and firm the soil around the roots. Water the tree thoroughly to settle the soil, and get all the air pockets from around the roots. Leave a mound around the hole to hold water.

Don't place fertilizer in the hole. It will burn the root system. Fertilizer can be used after the tree starts active growth in the spring.

When fertilizing, use no more than one pound of 10-10-10 per year of the tree's age, and spread it in a 25-square-foot area around the tree. Never put fertilizer in the planting hole.

Cut the tree back by one-half to bring the top in balance with the root system. This ensures good top growth and survival.

Watering during the first two years is more important for good line and survival. Pecan trees need at least 10 gallons of water per week.

Watering is most important during the growing season, along with weed control. Keep the area around the tree free from weeds by cultivation, mulching or herbicides.

Tom Crocker is a horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.