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Bent pecan tree

Posted by poolecw Georgia 7b (My Page) on
Mon, Jan 27, 14 at 15:13

I planted several 3-4 year old trees this weekend that I ordered from a very good online nursery. One of my pecan trees, however, was bent. The bend seems to start at the graft union. Should I tie it back and try to straighten it up now or do you think that time will fix it?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Bent pecan tree

It's really hard to tell much about it without a picture. Any chance of one? If not, a much more detailed description might possibly be helpful. Does the trunk have a sharp turn, or a gradual bend? Does it look like it was reaching for light, suffering from bad pruning, or something else? Can it be adjusted in the planting hole so that it is growing somewhat vertically? A picture or two would probably answer all these questions and more.


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RE: Bent pecan tree

Thanks and I've attached a picture. It doesn't look like it was reaching for light.


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RE: Bent pecan tree

dig it up ...

plant it so its rather vertical ... the top foot or two ... not the trunk at the ground ....

and mulch it soon ...

when its a foot thick ... you will no longer see the bow ...

with that soil.. it doesnt look like it needs to be staked..

and rather than fighting mother nature.. work with her ... it will be easier for the tree to thicken.. than for you to force it straight ...

review the link.. and fix anything else you might have done otherwise ...

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: link


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RE: Bent pecan tree

"plant it so its rather vertical...the top foot or two...not the trunk at the ground"

I read this a couple of times Ken, what do you mean?


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RE: Bent pecan tree

thanks, I appreciate the advice. I'll dig it up this week. I've always been told that it is better to set the tree straight in the hole and that it will most lightly straighten itself out over time. But this looked too bent to me.

by the way, the nursery said to prune 1/3 to 1/2 of the tree at planting. I haven't done that yet but when I do, that will take out some of the bend.


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RE: Bent pecan tree

Ken is suggesting that the tree be repositioned so that the top part of the tree (not the bottom one-fifth) is vertical. That is also what I'd do. Or, maybe a little compromise so that the top part is close to vertical.

If left as-is, the tree may self-correct, but repositioning in the planting hole (especially since it was just planted) would ensure a more vertical trunk.


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RE: Bent pecan tree

"...the nursery said to prune 1/3 to 1/2 of the tree at planting."

I wouldn't do that. The tree will become established more quickly if you do not cut it back. There is really no real advantage in cutting it back now. There are disadvantages. How tall is the tree?


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RE: Bent pecan tree

Brandon,
Thanks for the warning. Its odd to see varying thoughts. The link below is actually where I read about pruning 1/3 to 1/2 at planting.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link


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RE: Bent pecan tree

Yeah, I see lots of little problems with that article.

How'd your planting technique compare to the instructions at the link below?

Here is a link that might be useful: Planting a Tree or Shrub


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RE: Bent pecan tree

Brandon,

I determined my location and then used a grubing hoe to remove the grass in a 3ft x 3ft square. I dug a 2ft dia hole in the center of the squar. Because pecan trees have such long tap roots, I had to go nearly 3ft deep. After digging, I placed the tree in the hole, filled the hole half full with native dirt, added about 2 gal of water and coninued to fill with dirt. Afterwards, covered the 3x3 bare patch with 4in of pine nugget mulch.

I have since read that pruning at planting to try to match the top to the roots is actually old outdated advice that causes more harm than good. So thanks for the heads up.


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RE: Bent pecan tree

brandon made my thoughts appear in readable/understandable words.. lol ...

one thing.. be sure.. that the roots are below ground.. and the trunk above..

the root/trunk interface.. should be at soil level ... or if you are going to mulch.. even a bit high ... anything is better than burying trunk material.. its not made to be wet in soil ...

also ...NOT pruning is an easy decision ... when you accept.. the every leaf is a food making machine.. and for the next year or two.. it needs every single one it puts out ... to generate energy thru photosynthesis ... to grow the roots.. to get your tree.. fully ESTABLISHED ...

now riddle me this batman ... if you remove 1/3 to 1/2 of the canopy .... the top ... then arent you removing 1/3 to 1/2 of the potential food makers.. the leaves???

so.. under that logic.. no pruning until the leaves do their work ...

get some mulch on it.. maybe even raise some walls 2 or 3 feet out.. so you can lay down a puddle of water.. and water it deeply.. and thoroughly.. thru the root zone.. and then let it near dry .. before you water deep again.. insert finger 2 or 3 inches into the soil.. past the mulch .. and do not water. .until it is dry.. or hot.. hot meaning it will be dry in a few days or so ... how this all works.. depends on your soil .. so i cant be any more specific ... but let me add... if i planted this 4/1 .. in my z5 MI ... which is a week after the soil thaws from frozen ... pretty equivalent to you right now, i would guess ... it might not need more water until late june.. when the real heat of summer starts sucking moisture out of the soil at depth..

to be sure.. this isnt a calender thing... its an art.. not a science ... and your finger.. is the artist.. lol ...

you do not need to dig it all the way out... dig on the side you want to pull it upright... until.. the tree tips/pulls the way you want.. refill hole..

IMHO ... taproots are irrelevant.. i probably would have snipped it off at 12 to 18 inches ... simply to make it easier to plant ...

a root is a root... nothing special about a tap root.. cutting it.. would have forced it to created a bunch of new ones at that point ...

it is amazing.. on bare root ... mail order.. how many sticks with a single root or two.. WILL thrive.. given proper water ...

ken


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RE: Bent pecan tree

If you prune it now you will have a lot of low branches that will have to be pruned off later to get a good trunk established. Any pruning you might have to do is years down the road.
Replant it vertical and then leave it alone, except for watering when needed.
Mike


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RE: Bent pecan tree

Pecan trees in orchards are often pruned to encourage them to grow branchy/bushy. In my opinion that's a bad idea, especially since pecan trees are fairly brittle wooded anyways. Try to encourage a central leader as much as you can.


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RE: Bent pecan tree

Just finished another 10 pecan trees last week. Makes 60 total. I would have just left it as it was. Probably would have corrected itself withing 2-3 yrs.
A tad bit concerned about you watering with 2 gallons. My trees were in the 3-4' range and they were planted with about 15-20 gallons of water. Within a week I went back and watered again with another 15-20 gallons per tree and then mulched. These trees need water and lots of it to establish. Your waterings should be in the 10-20 gallon range each time.


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RE: Bent pecan tree

"Your waterings should be in the 10-20 gallon range each time."

...maybe if you've got pure sand! I've never used anywhere remotely close to 20 gallons for a tree that size, here in Tennessee. In fact, here, I'd say 5 or 6 gallons would be plenty.


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RE: Bent pecan tree

Texas is different than Georgia. So is Seattle and we all have Zone 8 in our states. Here in western Washington I would only need enough water to establish capillary action to get things going. I'm not dealing with your heat though, so that helps.
20 gallons in that sticky Georgia clay seems a bit much to me too. I don't see where it would hurt though.
Mike


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RE: Bent pecan tree

I planted these in really good soil (used to keep cows in this field). I used the two gal of water to backfill the hole as I filled back up with dirt. I do this to help prevent air pockets around roots. I'll water as needed to help establish the tree.


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RE: Bent pecan tree

Another option to straighten it would be to drive a 6" T-bar or stick on the side you want to have the tree move to. Use green flexible tie material in at least two places to move the tree close to the stake. I would always have the stake at a slight angle to compensate for the movement of the pole.

The tree should be as straight as you'd like it in one to two years. You should remove the stake at that time.


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RE: Bent pecan tree

I'm in the minority with scotjute. I wouldn't mess with it. It will straighten out in 1-2 growing seasons. I plant quite a few small trees with few if any branches that lean like this and I almost always try to plant the basal 1/3 of the trunk perpendicular to the ground. The tops always respond the next growing season by straightening up unless they lack vigor.

Heck, when I move potted plants around during the growing season, it is very common for them to readjust to the new setting by bending the trunk and branches to get more light. I have seen some of my potted trees respond multiple times in the same growing season when they have to be moved more than once. So I don't think you have to go back and mess with it.

I have also planted the trunk at an angle as suggested by many above and made the upper 2/3 of the trunk perpendicular to the ground. After 3 growing seasons, the whole trunk is nearly vertical in appearance. This was on an 'October Glory' red maple, though. Perhaps more vigorous than the pecan but maybe not. It has grown ~2-2.5' per year since I planted it. Nothing wrong with this method either if it had been originally planted this way. I just don't the difference will be worth replanting if you could compare the appearance of the two after a few years of growth.

This post was edited by j0nd03 on Wed, Jan 29, 14 at 17:22


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RE: Bent pecan tree

Using Jbraun's t-bar/stake method, as described above, has at least a couple of disadvantages. When you leave a tree staked, it cannot flex as much with the wind, as it would naturally, and so does not gain as much strength and trunk caliper. The result is often a more lanky, floppy tree in the end. Another disadvantage is that the tree tries to grow away from any shaded area. If the stake is near the tree, the tree's life tissue will develop in such a way as to cause the tree to bend away from the stake once the ties are removed. Keeping the stake away from the tree may help lessen that effect. I've employed this method on a few trees, but would not personally consider doing it for a newly planted tree that could so easily be corrected without damage to the root system.


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RE: Bent pecan tree

I have a very straight and tall pecan tree in my yard that I transplanted 12 years ago. At the time, it had an S bend in the trunk from about 6 inches above the ground, down 4 inches, then back up forming a full sideways S. I did the right thing and ignored it. Within 3 years, the tree was tall and straight and the S was totally grown out.

For this tree, I would not recommend any re-planting or even staking. Let it sprout next spring and when it does, do minor greenwood pruning to a single leader near the top of the plant. After 3 years, that bend will be history.

Note that this is true for pecan saplings, but larger trees or trees of other species that are crooked should be handled by other pruning methods.


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RE: Bent pecan tree

"For this tree, I would not recommend any re-planting..."

Besides just a few minutes of fairly easy work, why not?

"...trees of other species that are crooked should be handled by other pruning methods."

Care to elaborate?


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