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Pecan Management Calendar: February to April

By Will Chaney
Senior Research Associate

Posted Feb. 1, 2018

To properly manage a successful pecan orchard, a well-developed plan should be implemented. Planning will help growers and managers be prepared for tasks that will need to be addressed throughout the year. This calendar can be used as a resource to help with planning.

Note: Management tips for May through July will be in the May issue of Noble News and Views.

February

Irrigation

Make needed repairs to the irrigation system. Install new irrigation in orchard expansion areas. Make sure irrigation systems meet the minimum watering requirements for your area. In Oklahoma and Texas, the recommendation is for 1-2 inches of water per week in a pecan orchard. Use soil moisture sensors to determine when available water reaches the bottom of the root zone. For more information on pecan water needs visit Shaping Up Pecans with Irrigation.

Equipment Maintenance

Once harvest is completed, clean and perform any equipment maintenance before storing.

Orchard Maintenance

Remove trees marked for removal during the previous year.

Harvest

Continue harvest if needed. Try to finish up harvest by the end of the month.

Floor Maintenance

Continue any needed ground work. Till and pack to smooth any rough spots on the orchard floor, remove any debris left over from harvest, etc.

Pruning

Decisions will depend on the age of the tree.

  • Young trees (trees not in production): Train to a central leader. Remove competing leaders and weak crotches.
  • Older trees (trees that are producing): Remove damaged and low hanging branches that interfere with tree management.
Graftwood

Collect graftwood while the trees are dormant.

Planting

Continue planting trees.

March

Floor Maintenance

Finish up any ground work not yet completed.

Pruning

Prune damaged or dead branches. Also prune any limbs or branches that hang low or interfere with the operation of the orchard.

  • Last year's grafts: If you grafted trees last year, you will need train the graft as a central leader by removing competition and do a "tip" prune back to stimulate growth.
Graftwood

You should finish collecting any graftwood by early March.

Pest Control

Multiple pests can be in the orchard at any time. Buy or restock pesticide supplies for the upcoming production season.

  • Gopher: Use a gopher plow around the outside of the orchard if gopher damage is identified.
  • Scale insects/Mites: Dormant oils should be applied before bud break, but temperatures during and after application need to be in the range of 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Equipment Maintenance

Perform maintenance on sprayers.

Irrigation

Make needed repairs to the irrigation system.

Fertilize

Fertilization depends on the age of the tree.

  • First-year trees: Do not fertilize now. Correct amount and timing instructions will be in the May issue of Noble News and Views.
  • Second-year trees: Apply 1/2 pound of 46-0-0 every three weeks. Do not continue past the middle of July.
  • Third-year trees: Apply 1 pound of 46-0-0 every three weeks. Do not continue past the middle of July.
  • 4-year-old and older trees: On production trees, apply fertilizer according to the leaf analysis from the previous July.

April

Floor Maintenance

If weeds are a problem in the orchard, a pre-emergent herbicide can be applied to the orchard floor as needed. Start maintaining the vegetation on the orchard floor through mowing or grazing. More on weed management in pecans can be found at Weed Management in Pecans.

Disease Control

Apply pre-pollination scab spray to susceptible varieties when leaves are about one-half normal size.

Pruning

Finish pruning by mid-April.

Grafting

Start grafting when the bark begins to slip. Watch videos on how to graft using the following methods:

  • Bark graft
  • Four-flap graft
  • Fertilize: It is best to finish fertilization before budbreak.
Zinc Spray

On mature trees, apply foliar applications of zinc at the rate of 6 pounds of zinc sulfate (36 percent) per acre as leaves begin to unfold. For young trees, apply foliar zinc at a rate of 2 pounds of zinc sulfate (36 percent) per acre in two-week intervals beginning as leaves unfold.

Herbicide Spray

Apply a pre-emergent herbicide. Start maintenance of your vegetation-free strips.

Pest Control

Multiple pests can be in the orchard at any time. Additional information on controlling overwintering insects (hickory shoot curculio, sawfly, leaf hoppers) and other pests can be viewed at Commercial Pecan Insect and Disease Control.

  • Casebearer: Set out casebearer traps by the end of the month and start monitoring the pest level, in the southern half of Oklahoma. Check traps at least three times per week (daily preferred) to determine the first male moth capture.
  • Phylloxera: If phylloxera was in the orchard during the previous year, spray the tree between bud break and 2 inches of shoot growth. Some chemicals will require a second spray seven to 10 days later. Symptoms appear in July but cannot be controlled at that time.

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