Scroll to the bottom for some other great articles about what the professionals say about irrigating pecan trees.
Pecan trees NEED Water!
Well, the truth is that pecan trees can do ok without irrigation, but if you want the most out of your trees you need to get water to them.
If you look to the professional on this issue your going to see them preaching that water is the single most important environmental factor when it comes to producing quality pecans, and I can tell you from my experience that it’s going to make a huge difference in the health of your trees!
For example, take a look at these two trees on my farm.
Both of these trees are the same age and variety and we got them from the same nursery. The pecan tree in the top photo isn’t irrigated, and it's not an impressive tree especially not for being six years old. This second tree is irrigated, and look at the difference. This is a great looking tree. Its got a good solid trunk on it and it flushes out with new growth every year like it’s supposed too. I suspect we will be getting nuts from it very soon. Again remember, both of these trees are of the same age and variety the difference maker here is the water.
How you get water to your trees can become a rather lengthy conversation. If you’re looking to grow pecans for your lively hood you need to get a professional involved. At peak demands, a producing pecan orchard can require over 4,000 gallons of water per acre per day, and you don’t get that done just by stretching out a couple of garden hoses from the back of your house!
I suspect that most of you out there are probably going to land in the hobby orchard category and you're probably going to water your trees by tying into the well that services your home or perhaps by dropping a pump into a pond on your property.
If that’s you, I think you might enjoy seeing what we did to water our trees.
At our place, we already had a well-installed so we just needed to get the water out to the trees and a way to control when it went to them.
We figured that there is no sense reinventing the wheel here so we used a good old fashioned set of solenoids and a control panel to set the watering schedule.
To get the water to the trees we rented a trencher and buried some schedule 40 PVC 18” in the ground. If you are doing your own, make sure you get below the frost line in your area and that you are deep enough for vehicles to roll over your pipes. In most cases when your pipe is less than 2”, going 18” or deeper will get it done.
When it comes to the point where the water actually leaves the pipes to get to the trees there are a lot of options out there ranging from pop up heads to drip emitters and they all have their pros and cons.
At our place, we have a sort of unorthodox system. Our main trunk line and circuits are schedule 40 PVC, but at each tree, we come off of the PVC pipe with a ¼” vinyl tube. Normally at the end of these vinyl tubes, people would put a drip emitter or a soaker hose, but what I do is just leave it open. I’ve found that I get good results by just flooding the area around the tree, and don’t have to deal with all that maintenance that typically goes with pop up heads or drip emitters.
Now I know its debatable but this system has been working for me for years and it has a lot of advantages. The water goes right to the trees so I don’t have losses due to evaporation, I’m not wetting the leaves on my trees and creating an extra opportunity for scab to grow, my whole system is underground so I can mow over it and I don’t worry about it freezing, and the biggest thing is that I spend very little time on maintenance.
It's like I always tell you. If you are going to tackle this stuff make sure you take time and make a plan. If you don’t have a head for pumps, solenoids, pressure loss, and volume calculations then you need to get some help on this one. Call your uncle that knows everything about anything or maybe one of your neighbors.
Drip Irrigation In Pecans:
Pecan Water Requirements:
Irrigating Young Pecan Trees: