By Andy Sherrod, Orchard Manager
Springtime is always beautiful here at Royalty Pecan Farm.
The orchard floor is thick with ryegrass and wild flowers, and the trees have burst out with new pale green leaves and lots of FLOWERS.
“Flowers?” You may ask. “On a PECAN tree?”
Many people don’t realize that pecan trees flower, but they do. In fact pecan trees produce two types of flowers. The pollen-producing male flowers that grow in long tight clusters called catkins develop first. The female flowers, or nut-producing flowers, emerge a few days later.
In pecans both types of flowers are found on the same tree, unlike cottonwood and mulberry which have separate male and female trees. (When you buy a fruitless mulberry or a cottonless cottonwood at the garden center, you are actually buying a male tree.)
But even though both types of flowers are found on the same pecan tree, most varieties are not very efficient at self-pollination. Every variety is classified into one of two categories. Protandrous varieties are those which shed their pollen before the nut-producing flower on the same tree is receptive. Protogynous varieties are just the opposite. The nut-producing flowers are receptive before the pollen on that same tree is shed.
As a result, we at Royalty Pecan Farm have planted both types of varieties in close proximity to each other to ensure adequate pollination.
You don’t really have to take this into account when planting a tree or two of your own. Remember that I said some pecan varieties are not very efficient at self-pollination but there is some transfer of pollen and since you are not trying to earn a living off your yard tree the pecans you do produce will be entirely adequate.
So, admire your pecan flowers while they last. They won’t be visible much longer.