Pecan Tree Grafting/Fertilizing Fruit Trees

Patricia M. Arledge, Sharpe, Kenneth W.

News Article for February 2, 2015:

After some very warm late January days more cold fronts followed to remind us that winter in not over yet. Even Punxsutawney Phil, the official weather prognosticating ground hog, says that we are in for 6 more weeks of winter.

That should give us a little more time to get ready for spring. One of the tasks to accomplish is to collect grafting wood for pecan trees by the middle of February. Many people have a desirable tree that they would like to reproduce and this is the time to take your scion wood for the graft. You want to take some two year old wood which will be about one half inch in diameter. Make sure your sample is from a straight branch with buds evenly spaced at about 2 to 3 inches apart.

You will want to seal the cut ends of your grafting wood with grafting wax or orange shellac. Then place the scion in a plastic bag with a moist paper towel and then put the bag in your refrigerator crisper until needed.

Whip grafts are a common form of grafting and can be accomplished from mid-February to early March. You can skip placing the wood in the refrigerator and take grafting wood directly from the desired variety and graft it straight on to a seedling.

February is also the time to fertilize trees. There are a couple of ways to figure out how much fertilizer to use. You can calculate the total square feet under the canopy of the tree and then apply 4 -6 pounds of 8-8-8 or the equivalent fertilizer per 100 ft² for deciduous trees or 2-4 pounds for evergreen trees.

Another method that I like better is to apply 2 pounds of 8-8-8 fertilizer per inch diameter of the tree when measured at 4 feet of height. This will result in less fertilizer applied but it is easier to calculate and fertilizer is applied at a rate that is more lawn grass friendly. Most of us have grass under our trees that we do not want to burn.

You can choose to incorporate the fertilizer in small holes under the tree or you can broadcast the fertilizer. When incorporating I like to use a small auger or drill bit that is no more than 1¼ inches in diameter. Start with your back to the tree and walk 2 feet away from the trunk to drill your first hole. Go in a straight line away from the tree drilling holes every 15-18 inches until you are 10 feet past the drip line (branches edge). Think of this line as a spoke in a bicycle wheel. Put out your spokes symmetrically and put as many spokes in the wheel to accommodate the amount of fertilizer you need to apply. Fill the holes with fertilizer and you are ready to go.

Young trees will grow much faster with annual applications of fertilizer but mature trees only need fertilization about every 3 years.

Citrus trees should also be fertilized in February. The amount of fertilizer needed is 1 pound of 13-13-13 or 1½ pounds of 8-8-8 per year of age of the tree. Count the year you planted the citrus tree as year one. Stop increasing the amount of fertilizer when the tree reaches 12 years of age. So, the maximum fertilizer rate for mature citrus trees would be 12 pounds of 13-13-13 or 18 pounds of 8-8-8.

For citrus trees that are 4 years and older you should make a second application of fertilizer on June 1st. You can use ¼ pound of ammonium nitrate per year of age of the tree or ½ pound of calcium nitrate.

For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at

2/19/2015 9:18:55 PM
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