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Grow Your Own Pecan Pie

While enjoying a slice of delicious locally-made pecan pie, I felt motivated to share with you some tips on growing and enjoying pecans. Whether you say “pee-can” or “peh-cahn,” they are one of the most nutritious nuts you can buy. Or grow for yourself!

The pecan tree (Carya illinoensis) is native to North America and belongs to the walnuts and hickories family. This year, many healthy pecan trees are producing a bountiful harvest of the tasty nuts. But the downright neglected trees have few to no nuts on the ground, and folks wonder why. Pecans do have a lot of insect and disease problems, but with proper management, the extra work is well worth it.

Here are a few pointers on home pecan production:

  • If planting new trees, select a variety suitable for the home landscape and has good kernel quality, scab resistance, and productivity (yield).
  • Plant at the correct depth, mulch the young tree, and water regularly during establishment.
  • Soil test and follow recommendations for lime and fertilizer, including the extra zinc that pecans need to produce well.
  • The best defense against insects and diseases (such as pecan scab) is a resistant variety and good sanitation. Keep fallen leaves, shucks, and old nuts cleaned up and then burn, bury or get them OFF your property to prevent the spread of fungal spores and insect eggs.
  • To save your back, invest in a good tool for collecting pecans, such as Quick Collector, Garden Weasel, or Nut Wizard (available at most garden-related retail stores and online).

The Home & Garden Information Center (HGIC) has several excellent fact sheets, including HGIC 1356, Pecan Planting & Fertilization (which covers variety selection), HGIC 2213, Reasons for Poor-QualityPecans, HGIC 1362, FAQs About Pecan Production in the Home Garden, HGIC 2211, Pecan Diseases, Fall Webworm Management, and Harvesting Pecans

If you would like to try your hand at making the very best South Carolina Pecan Pie, here is the recipe https://discoversouthcarolina.com/articles/pecan-pie-please . Other pecan recipes, including roasting in the oven or microwave, are available from Texas A&M University at https://tinyurl.com/y3qs69zr

Fallen debris, leaves, and nuts are being cleaned up in this well-managed pecan grove near Society Hill, South Carolina. Fertilizer should be applied evenly beneath the canopy of the trees in mid- to late February. Trish DeHond, ©2020, Clemson Extension

Fallen debris, leaves, and nuts are being cleaned up in this well-managed pecan grove near Society Hill, South Carolina. Fertilizer should be applied evenly beneath the canopy of the trees in mid- to late February.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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