Plant bare root trees in the spring. Dig a hole large enough to hold the entire root system spread out in a natural manner. Do not allow the roots to dry out during planting. Do not fertilize the first year after planting but do apply a thick mulch of hay or straw. Water each time the soil is dry through the first summer but gradually reduce watering in late August and September.
Pecans should be fertilized once or twice a year. However, not just any fertilizer will do. Pecans evolved in very specific forest conditions and are susceptible to insects and disease. They therefore have very specific fertilizer requirements that will not be met with a standard "one-size-fits-all" lawn and turf fertilizer. In particular, fertilizers that release large amounts of Nitrogen quickly into the soil can encourage structurally weak growth that could cause problems. Aside from the formulation, the method of fertilization differs from that of your grass. In order to give your trees the most benefit, the fertilizer must be placed below the grass roots.
Head back branches that are too long and prune off lower branches to aid lawn mowing. Stems that form a sharp angle with the main stem should be removed as soon as possible. The tight V crotch formed by such branches is weak and susceptible to splitting.
Young trees are injured by the feeding of rodents. Rodent guards can be purchased from nurseries or mail order nurseries. Rodent guards may be made from quarter inch mesh hardware cloth. The guard must extend high enough up the tree so rodents can't stand on the snow cover and feed the trunk. Such protection should only be needed for 5 to 7 years.
Harvesting and Storing
The nuts are gathered after they have fallen to the ground. They can be cracked shortly after harvest and the nutmeats can be frozen until used. Two pounds of nuts yields about one pound or four cups of nutmeats.
Adapted from Michigan State University Extension publication.