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Old 05-09-2009, 08:36 AM   #1
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Default Pecans: Best guess?

When we bought our property a few years ago (former farm in Maryland, divided into 2.5 acre parcels as estate settlement) we discovered a pecan tree near the edge of a field. It's about 30'+ tall so it's been there for a while.

Because it's at the edge of a field along with all manor of trees and shrubs that occur here naturally, I thought at first that it may have been planted by a squirrel. However, now I'm not sure because it's so much larger than everything else growing along with it.

As Lorax pointed out to me in another forum, the species is not native here but it does seem to thrive. I'm told by some neighbors, whose family has been in the area for generations, that the next town down (3-4 miles away) used to be known for their pecans, about 75-100 years ago, so there must be many trees still left in the area.

I'm considering planting another pecan so that eventually we'll have a pretty consistent supply of nuts. From what I understand, I'll need to plant a variety compatible with mine. So how do I determine what variety mine might be? I know when it blooms, but how can I compare that information with information that is most likely coming from another set of geographic/meteorological circumstances than mine?

It may all come down to the "best guess" method of decision making, but since pecans take so many years before they bear nuts I'd sure like to try to make it the bestest guess possible. So what do you nut folks think?
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Old 05-09-2009, 09:17 AM   #2
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Carya illinoensis
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Old 05-09-2009, 10:19 AM   #3
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Pecan Pollination Chart-

Here's a pollination list from Texas. You may want to check with your county agent to identify your tree and check on pollination compatibility.

Around here "Stuart" is an old variety. There are modern papershells that some people like, but I think the old one's are less buggy.

I live in the remnant of an old pecan orchard. In the old days seedling pecans were grown as pollinators and I still have quite a few of those. Their nuts are small - but actually much tastier than the named varieties.

Also, pecans are mast crops that cycle in their production. Some years will be pecan years and there may be several years with only very light crops.

Pecan trees are zinc users so if you are looking for good producing trees you need to test the soil and add the minerals required.

If your tree is "blooming" I would wonder if it is a pecan.
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Old 05-09-2009, 11:18 AM   #4
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Thanks, Hazelnut. Pecans don't flower? Well, then maybe it's not a pecan after all.

I would say that the blooms would be considered "insignificant" from a suburban landscaper's point of view, but it does seem to flower at the end of May, beginning of June. And the resulting nuts (?) that come down in the fall/winter sure look like pecans but I confess that I don't have the slightest idea what I'm talking about. While I love trees and am constantly trying to learn more about them, I'm really still a wannabe. I guess I'll have to do some elementary research.

Thanks for the nudge, Hazelnut! BTW, I've ordered 10 Corylus americana seedlings from the New Hampshire state nursery (never grown them before). What advice do you have?
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Old 05-09-2009, 12:51 PM   #5
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Do the blossoms look like this?

This is horse chestnut. I don't know anything about corylus americana.
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Old 05-09-2009, 01:50 PM   #6
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Carya illinoensis is the Northern Pecan. You would be quite a ways out of its natural range so May might very well be when you would see it blooming. By blooming I mean the catkins which aren't all that showy. If you have the straight species and not a cultivar, you wouldn't need another Pecan. This species is monoecious and it is wind pollinated. The pollen can travel for miles. If you have a cultivar, it's a good idea to plant another cultivar or the straight species. The cultivars frequently display incomplete dichogamy meaning the release of the pollen isn't in sync with the receptivity of the stigma. hazelnut is correct. Pecans mast. Like most nut trees, some years are bumper crops and others aren't. Corylus americana is an excellent choice. Bravo for picking it. It bears fruit within 4-5 years which will make you a very happy guy.
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Old 05-09-2009, 02:09 PM   #7
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Hazelnut: sorry about the Corylus. I made an assumption based on your username. As I was told in school: When you assume, you make an "ass" out of "u" and "me."

The flowers are catkins, as noted by Equilibrium. After cruising around the internet, I'm pretty sure it is a pecan (it resembles a pecan more than it does hickories, anyway). And since it already bears nuts, I guess it's either the straight species (again, as noted by Equilibrium) or it has a happy pollinator somewhere in the neighborhood already.

Yes, I am very excited about the Corylus. I'm sure I'll have questions about planting so will post a query when I know when they'll arrive.

Thanks to everyone!
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Old 05-09-2009, 02:16 PM   #8
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She likes to eat them My best suggestion to you is to start picking where you want to plant them then start digging holes for your hazelnuts now. I used to always wait till the last minute to dig holes and then the weather wouldn't cooperate with me or something came up that needed doing more than digging. Now the trick when walking around is to remember that you dug holes. I have fallen in many a pre-dug hole and my husband never misses the opportunity to laugh at me.
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Old 05-09-2009, 03:11 PM   #9
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Equilibrium, would you treat the Corylus like a crop (segregated, planted in a row) or would you intersperse them into the hedgerow? A bit of both? 10 was the minimum order, so I'll have enough to play around with.
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Old 05-09-2009, 04:06 PM   #10
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The first time I planted 25 I treated them like a mixed hedge. One problem... I waited till the last minute to dig the holes and there were 25 of them and only one of me and it was hot and muggy the day I decided to get out there to start digging. I finished up digging holes before sunset. I was so tired I was about ready to do a face plant. Figured no problem waiting until the morning to put tubes on them to protect them from the deer and rabbits until they got established. Rise and shine. Gathered my tubes and found all of my hazelnuts reduced to nubs and some had been uprooted and had dried out over night. If you have deer in the area, protect your American hazelnuts no matter how you plant them. They're like Great White Trillium and the deer view them as a delicacy. I wouldn't plant anything in a row but that's me. We're asking for a problem when we go the route of the single species soldier row. I'd mix them up with other native shrubs. A mixed hedgerow is considerably more resistent to disease and pests than a hedgerow of a single species.
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