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Alternate Bearing Year


Alternate bearing in pecan production means that a tree bears a relatively heavy crop of nuts one year and a lighter one the next. It is characteristic of pecan trees and other hardwood forest trees.

Alternate pecan production (on and off years) is mainly the result of inadequate fertilization. When trees set a large nut crop, there are not enough nutrients for both that year's nuts to mature and for the tree to store enough plant food for adequate production in the following year.

How to Care for a Pecan Tree

  1. Fertilize your tree. Young trees need ample fertilization for rapid tree growth. ...

  2. Water your tree. To maintain adequate soil moisture—particularly for young trees—water your tree at least weekly from March through September. ...

  3. Deter pests. ...

  4. Protect your tree from diseases. ...

  5. Prune your tree.

Pruning a pecan tree should take place at the end of winter, just before the new buds form. This keeps the tree from putting too much energy into new growth that's just going to be cut away. As the tree grows, cut away any branches that have a tighter angle than 45 degrees – they'll grow too weak.

Insight into alternate bearing — do carbohydrates drive it? - Pecan South MagazinePecan South magazine | The pecan industry's leading publication, published monthly for pecan producers, processors and all others involved or interested in the pecan industry.


Low fertility and an inadequate amount of zinc can limit nut production. Fertilize according to soil test and tissue analysis. Without a soil test, the rule of thumb for fertilizing pecan trees is one pound of 13-13-13 fertilizer per tree for every year of the tree's age, up to 25 pounds.

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