Pecan Seed Germination, Time, Temperature, Process

Introduction to Pecan seed germination process

The Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) tree is a large deciduous tree that is best known for its tasty nuts that are the star of many sweet and savory dishes. The Pecan tree is one of the most important horticultural nut crops in the world.  Pecan is also called sweet Pecan, is an important source of valuable wood and very desirable wildlife food. Since this species does not form pure stands, and its natural regeneration consists mainly of scattered individuals, the establishment of stands for management would need an artificial regeneration by direct seeding or planting of seedlings. In this article we also discussed the below topics;

  • Process of Growing Pecan from seed
  • Time to take Pecan seeds take to germinate
  • Conditions for germinate Pecan seeds
  • How do you germinate Pecan seeds
  • Pecan seed germination temperature
  • Process for germinating Pecan seeds
  • Pecan seeds germination period

A step by step guide to Pecan seed germination

The Pecan Seed/Nut.
The Pecan Seed/Nut.

About the Pecan seed

The Pecan nut is the seed; the tough outer shell that houses it is the fruit. In nature, the Pecan drops off the tree in fall and ends up buried, by the elements or woodland creatures. These burying results in the seed overwintering in a cold, moist place where it can stratify, or the seed gets ready to germinate. To grow a Pecan tree from seed, you should mimic the stratification process indoors over the winter and then plant the seed in the early spring. If you plant the Pecan seed immediately after the fall harvest, you risk losing the nut to a hungry squirrel or insect damage.

Preparing the seed

To stratify the Pecan seeds, harvest healthy Pecans, and place them in plastic bags. Store the bags in the refrigerator at a temperature between 0 and 7°C. In late winter or early spring, after 3 months in cold storage, the Pecans are warmed to room temperature for about a week and then soaked in water for 24 hours. When the water-soaked Pecan seeds split open, they are ready for planting.

The spacing of Pecan trees or Pecan seed spacing

Spacing is very important for proper Pecan tree growth and fertilization. Pecan trees for the home orchard require a spacing of about 60 to 80 feet between trees. This allows enough space for Pecan trees to grow properly. Crowding can cause misshapen trees and reduce Pecan nut yield. Because Pecan trees can reach up to 100 feet tall, it is important to plant them away from overhead power lines. Trees experience limited growth and yield when shaded, so plant them away from buildings, trees, or other structures that can block sunlight.

Pecan trees must be planted between 60 and 80 feet apart to allow them plenty of room for growing. Overcrowding Pecan trees will hinder their growing procedure and decrease their harvests. If the trees are planted too closely together, trees may become deformed when not given enough space to expand.

Pecan tree maturity

Pecan trees mature at different ages and depending on whether they are grown from seed or from a graft. Pecan trees are grown from seed usually bear their first crop at 10 to 14 years of age and reach full maturity at 18 to 22 years. Pecan trees grown from a graft can bear their first crop at 6 to 8 years and reach full maturity at 14 to 16 years. The life span for the Pecan tree, either seed or graft, is approximately 40 years.

Planting and initial growth of Pecan

In March, after stratification and soaking, the Pecans are planted about 3 or 4 inches deep in moist soil, with three Pecans planted in the same mound. If you want more than one tree, plant additional Pecan trios no less than 35 feet apart to leave room for the mature Pecan trees. The roots of the new tree will emerge from the split in the shell and grow at a rate of about 1/2 inch per day. When the root system reaches about 1 foot in length, the shoot of the new Pecan tree will rise about 2 or 3 inches from the top of the nut and start to pike through the soil. The Pecan plants should be left to grow for about a year, at which time the young seedlings will be 6 to 18 inches tall. If all three Pecans germinate and successfully grow into seedlings, leave the healthiest-looking plant, and then remove the others.

Temperature and time for Pecan seed germination

The ideal temperature is 7°C and in a polyethylene bag to allow oxygen and carbon dioxide movement through the bag, but no loss of moisture. Some stratify Pecan seeds in poly bags with both Pecans and slightly moist packing mediums such as sand, peat moss, or vermiculite. Germination of about 4 to 8 weeks is required for all Pecan seeds to come up.

Pecan seed germination

The Pecan tree germination process requires a few steps. You’ll want to choose a Pecan from the current season that appears sound and healthy. To give yourself the greatest possibility of success, plan on planting several, even if you only want one Pecan tree. Stratify the nuts for 6 to 8 weeks before planting by placing them in a container of peat moss. Keep the moss moist, but not wet, in a temperature range slightly above freezing. After that process is complete, acclimate the Pecan seeds to normal temperatures for a few days. Then soak the seeds in water for 48 hours, changing the water daily. Ideally, the soaking must occur in running water so, if possible, leave a hose trickling into the dish. This facilitates Pecan tree germination.

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The Pecan seeds are taken from dry storage, and placed in moist soil, absorb water through the shell for 2 weeks, enzymes stimulate growth, the shell splits, the young root emerges and grows about l/2 inch per day, extending a foot or more into the soil before the shoot emerges through 2 or 3 inches of soil. The germination process is staggered for each seedling and 4 to 8 weeks is required for all seed to come up.

Dry storage is required for the Pecan nuts as soon as they are harvested. The drying wants to be as fast as possible without using heat. The stratification process is the period from drying to planting. For Pecans, they can be stratified with dry chilling. The ideal temperature is 7°C and in a polyethylene bag to allow oxygen and carbon dioxide movement through the bag, but no loss of moisture. Some stratify seeds in poly bags with both Pecans and a very slightly moist packing medium such as sand, peat moss, or vermiculite. Some stratify as nuts only with no medium. The temperature should never go below 2°C because freezing will kill the embryo. Stratification must be from as soon as the nuts are dry until they are presoaked for planting in late February. Most people are now using the dry stratification process.

Pre Soaking is used to stimulate the germination process. The nuts are placed in a mesh bag, submerged in a water bath, and soaked in running water for 1 to 4 days. Barrels, irrigation canals, or rivers have been used so that the water is not standing still. Top-quality Pecan seed will swell and split in only one day. This seed must be checked at least twice daily, handled carefully, and planted immediately without allowing them to dry.

Sowing Pecan seeds

Sow Pecan seeds in early spring in a sunny garden bed and fertilize the soil with 10-10-10 before planting. After two years a seedling should be around 4 to 5 feet (1.5 m.) tall and ready for grafting. Grafting is a process where you take a cutting from a cultivar Pecan tree and allow it to grow on the rootstock tree, essentially blending 2 trees into one. The part of the Pecan tree with the roots in the ground is the one you grew from seed, the branches that produce nuts are from a particular cultivar of Pecan tree. There are many different ways to graft Pecan fruit trees. You’ll need a cutting (called a scion) that is straight and strong and has at least 3 buds on it. Do not use branch tips while these can be weak.

Plant Pecan trees from seed

Pecan trees grown from seed do not have the same characteristics as their parent plants, which means they could not produce a satisfactory yield. To get the Pecan tree to consistently bear quality fruit, you must graft the roots of the growing seedling to a piece or scion of the parent tree in a process known as “top working.” Many grafting methods can accomplish this task, but among the easiest for beginners and home gardeners is the four-flap method, also known as the “banana graft.” This graft is performed when the trunk of the Pecan seedling reaches about 3/8 to 1 inch in diameter. The seedling is cut off 3 to 4 feet above the ground, and a scion of the parent tree or another desired Pecan plant is grafted onto the trunk to form a new tree. When properly cared for, the newly grafted tree must begin producing Pecans when it is between 5 and 8 years of age.

Pecan trees grow reliably well from seeds, although you must chill them for 2 to 3 months before sowing to satisfy their dormancy requirements. Once chilled, sow them in deep pots and give them constant moisture to successfully germinate them one month later.

The process of planting Pecan trees from seed can be given below;

  • Gather Pecans in late autumn after the hulls dry out and then turn a dark brown color. Select fruit still attached to the tree. Cut around the fruit hull with a knife. Remove the hard, oblong Pecan seed.
  • Store the Pecan seeds for 2 to 3 months in a refrigerator, in a 1-gallon sealable plastic bag filled with moistened perlite, to cold stratify them. Then, pour 2 or 3 tablespoons of water onto the perlite whenever it dries out.
  • Sow the seeds in deep, 2-gallon plastic nursery containers filled with a mixture of half loam and half horticultural sand. Bury the Pecan seeds at a depth equal to twice their width, which is approximately 2 inches.
  • Spread a 1-inch-thick layer of mulch over the loam mixture to help insulate the seeds. Use acidic mulch, for example, pine needle compost or chipped oak leaves. Water to about 5-inch depth to moisten the soil and settle the mulch.
  • Put the nursery containers inside a cold frame or outdoors against a wall with southern exposure and shelter from cold temperatures. Select a spot with light shade at midday. Water the Pecan seeds whenever the loam mixture feels dry about 1 inch below the surface. Then, run a garden hose into the nursery containers on low volume so the water soaks in rather than trickling off.
  • Watch for germination approximately one month after daytime temperatures stay reliably above 21°C. Decrease watering by half after the germination process to promote root growth.
  • Grow the Pecan seedlings under bright conditions for their first summer and provide 1 to 2 inches of water weekly. Then, transplant them into a large bed with moist, moderately acidic soil in early autumn.

Commonly asked questions about Pecan farming

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Pecan Tree.
Pecan Tree.
How many Pecan trees can you plant on 1 acre?

Plant Pecan trees in a square grid with the trees reach 30 to 40 feet apart. As the Pecan trees grow bigger, the grove will be thinned, and mature groves will end up with trees on 80-foot grids, which translates to 7 Pecan trees per acre.

How far do Pecan tree roots spread?

Feeder roots can extend to a distance 2 to 3 times the diameter of the tree’s leafy crown. The taproot of a mature tree grows to a depth of more than 10 feet.

How many Pecans can one tree produce?

A single Pecan tree is capable of producing about 50 lbs of nuts per tree in the 10th growing season and 100 pounds in the 15th growing season. Trees are most frequently planted at densities ranging from 12 to 48 trees per acre, making it possible to produce over 1,000 pounds per acre per year.

Do Pecans need to dry before shelling?

Pecans harvested at the optimum time still have considerable shell and kernel moisture, so you have to dry Pecans before storage. Even late-harvested Pecan nuts will require some drying. Depending upon air temperatures and the harvest date, drying will take about 2 to 10 days.

How long can Pecans stay on the ground?

Pecans in their shell will stay fresh at room temperature for 4 months. If you want to keep Pecans longer than 4 months, there are many things you can do to increase their shelf life.

Do Pecan trees bear fruit every year?

While Pecan trees can produce a crop each year once they get started, heavy crops of nuts get produced in alternate years. The phenomenon, called alternate bearing, means the Pecan trees produce light crops in the other years.

Can I grow a Pecan tree from a Pecan?

A viable Pecan seed or the nut is the product of cross-pollination between two Pecan trees. Yes, you can grow a Pecan tree from Pecan nut. That’s how commercial growers get their rootstocks, and it’s also how new and different Pecan plant varieties are discovered.

Where is the best place to plant a Pecan tree?

Plant the Pecan tree in a location with soil that drains freely to a depth of 5 feet. Growing trees have a long taproot that is susceptible to disease if the soil is soggy. Hilltops are ideal and space the trees 60 to 80 feet apart and well away from structures and power lines.

What month do Pecans fall?

Observe the trees for indications the nuts are ready to fall. Pecans could begin falling from early September to November, and preparing for harvesting must be done before the nuts falling, but close enough to the anticipated fall that your efforts will not have been undone by time and weather.

The conclusion of Pecan seed germination

The high percentage of pecan seed germination will result in a good crop yield.

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