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By Andy Sherrod, Orchard Manager

It’s hot. But this IS Texas. A good word of advice to survive the summer heat is to drink a lot of water. The same advice is good for pecan trees, too.

Royalty-Pecans-Orchard-July July in the Orchard at Royalty Pecan Farms

Pecan trees don’t wilt so it’s difficult to tell if they have become water-stressed. We at Royalty Pecan Farms planted 600 new trees this past winter and for various reasons a few of them dried out. Their leaves went from green to black, just like that. No wilting at all to alert us to the problem.

This is not often the case for an established tree but it can happen. 2011 was the worst drought we have experienced in many years, certainly in my career. We lost just over 200 trees … they were almost all non-irrigated.

How Much Water Do Pecan Trees Need?

  • Research has shown that during the hot summer months a mature pecan tree will use about 150 gallons of water every day.
  • That’s the equivalent of about two inches of rainfall per week.
  • To a home owner that represents about 1,000 gallons of water per week.

July in the Orchard at Royalty Pecan FarmsMost of the water taken up by the tree is lost through leaf pores called stomata (one pore is called a stomate). This process in plants is called transpiration. In people it’s called perspiration, and it serves the same purpose: to keep the plant cool and allow photosynthesis to continue. I talked about photosynthesis, or food production, last month.

Now, this doesn’t mean that 150 gallons of water has to be applied every single day. Depending on the soil type, much of the water is held in the soil pore space waiting for a plant to extract it.

A pecan tree can go a maximum of two weeks without water. A three week drought is detrimental.

If you are serious about keeping your pecan trees healthy this summer, water them. And while you’re at it, drink some yourself.