How to Care for and Harvest Pecan Trees

As the state tree of Texas, pecan trees are a mainstay of Texas imagery and culture. These stately beauties reach heights between 60 and 80 feet at maturity and have expansive branches. Texas pecan trees make excellent shade trees, and you’ll love having a yearly harvest of pecans. Taking proper care of your pecan tree is vital for it to reach its full potential.

Planting or Transplanting

When you first acquire a pecan tree, whether it’s a young or mature tree, you’ll need to make sure it is planted in a location where it can thrive. Pecan trees need to be planted somewhere with deep, rich soil, good drainage and plenty of room to grow. The root system of a pecan tree can extend for many feet underground, so you want to make sure that there aren’t any pipes or additional plants competing for the same space. Without proper drainage, pecan trees are susceptible to root death, reduced transportation of minerals and rot diseases.

Additionally, you should consider planting two varieties of pecan trees together. This will allow for cross-pollination and lead to more abundant pecan harvests. Just make sure each tree is given plenty of space, so neither tree is crowded.

Maintenance and Care

Pruning is one of the most important aspects of tree care. For young pecan trees, you will need to establish a strong leader branch and a sturdy scaffold structure. Mature pecan trees only need to have dead, broken or diseased branches removed periodically. The best way to make sure your tree is being maintained properly is to use Fannin’s tree pruning service.

Proper fertilization is vital for Texas pecan trees. Without plenty of lime, nitrogen and zinc, pecan trees will not produce good harvests. You should not fertilize pecan trees after July, however, as it can make them more susceptible to freezing during the winter months. Participating in our Thrive Tree Program or consulting our certified arborist about the best type of fertilizer to use will help you keep your pecan tree properly nourished.


One of the major benefits of having a pecan tree is the yearly harvest of fresh pecans. Pecan trees are usually ready to be harvested by early September, as the husks reach their full size by late summer. When these husks begin to split, the pecans will fall from the tree. Before pecan husks start falling, clear the space around your pecan tree of debris to make picking up the pecans easier. Not all of the pecans will fall to the ground, so you can gently shake the limbs of your pecan tree to get the most out of your harvest.

Harvesting pecans can be a labor-intensive task, but tools like a rake or a rolling pecan picker can help. Additionally, it’s important to collect pecans as soon as possible once they’ve fallen from the tree to prevent them from rotting.

Once you’ve harvested all the pecans, you’ll need to sort them. If the shell is not a uniform color, feels light or sounds hollow, it is unlikely that the pecan inside is worth it. These pecans can be discarded. Once sorted, pecans should be kept in a cool, dry place in a breathable container for a few weeks after harvesting. This allows them to cure, making it easier to shell them.

Pecan trees require a lot of care, but their beautiful appearance, abundant shade and yearly harvest of fresh nuts make them one of the best native Texas trees.