Pecans Are Resilient

Pecans are resilient. They are supremely adapted to climate conditions of the Central and Southeast United States.

This year we warmed up early not untypical weather for spring in the Mid-South. Trees began to leaf out, Pecans included, and Bam! we had a hard freeze. Here at our farm in Middle Tennessee we saw 25 degrees at the house and probably 23 or lower in the bottom where the Pecan trees are. We were below 32 degrees for 12 hours. For you who are unfamiliar with the effects of cold on plants, freeze damage is a function of not only temperature but duration. A quick dip below freezing lasting an hour or so may not cause much noticeable damage but this long duration freeze was a killing freeze.

The week following showed a complete kill of all new growth and swelling buds on our Pecan trees. So much for this years pecans. I was not afraid the trees would die. Part of the trees resilience is that they are covered in dormant buds that will initiate when needed. Sure enough a few weeks later secondary buds began to swell and open up. Every variety is different but some flushed 5 or 6 buds where there had only been a couple before. Where the tips were killed back several inches into last years wood, there were dormant buds all along the branch that began to grow.

Now comes the part that surprised me about how resilient Pecan trees are. Those dormant buds are producing male and female flowers. We are about to have type 1 and type 2 pollen available at the same time as type 1 and type 2 female flowers. Pollination, if it happens, will be late and we will have to wait and see if the nuts have enough summer to mature.

Pecans are resilient
Lipan Pecan female flowers

It is always possible to lose a crop of Pecans to bad weather but Pecans are resilient and will survive despite the weather.