Pecan pollination season is upon us. Now is the time to go out and observe your trees to see what is blooming and when. This will help you determine if you are getting full pollination or just partial pollination in your pecan trees.
So, what should you look for? First and most obvious are the male flowers. These “tassels” are called catkins and are the flowers that release the pollen that is wind borne to the female flowers on your trees.
On type 1 trees these catkins will emerge with the first leaves on the trees. They appear on last years wood, the grey part of the branch while the female flowers will form on this years growth, the green part of the branch. Pollen release is beginning when the yellow pollen grains appear on the catkins. Just because you see the catkins does not mean pollen is being released. as long as they remain green there is no pollen being released. Observation is needed to be sure when pollen release begins and when it ends. Pollen release depends on variety. Some trees release all their pollen in 4 or 5 days while others may release pollen over 2 weeks or more. Full pollination depends on pollen being available every day that female flowers are open. There are a few varieties that have an overlap period where male and female flowers are open on the same tree at the same time. Some of these trees have been advertised as self pollinating and yes they do produce a few nuts without a pollinator but nowhere near the numbers they would produce with a proper pollinator.
Type 2 trees produces their female flowers first and the male catkins come later. Female flowers look like tiny pecans with a tiny 4 petaled flower on the end of it. They form on the tips of the new growth and are very hard to see except on low branches. Some of the petals are red but many are the same green as the leaves around them.
Several northern pecan varieties have “unknown” pollination types. They have not been observed and documented. Most of these are not considered commercial varieties so not official research has been done. If you have a tree that you have not been able to find any pollination information on, go out this spring and observe. Write down the dates that pollen is available and the dates that female flowers are receptive. Let me know and I will add it to the chart and share it with the pecan world. The more we know about these trees, the better decisions we can make about choosing the best varieties.