Several types of trees are planted or started from seed. They may go on to be rootstock for other, better quality varieties or they may be grown for their own merits. This is a process planned well in advance. In early we fall we received our pecan seed. It was sourced from the northernmost range of the cold hardy pecan in Iowa. We then needed to cold stratify the seed. Seed Stratification is explained by the following:
– A type of imposed dormancy found in seeds is internal dormancy regulated by the inner seed tissues. This dormancy prevents seed of many species from germinating when environmental conditions are not favorable for survival of the seedlings. There are several different degrees or types of internal dormancy. One type of internal dormancy is “shallow” and simply disappears with dry storage. Many vegetable seeds display this type of dormancy. No special treatments are necessary to overcome this kind of dormancy.
However, another type of internal dormancy requires special treatments to overcome. Seeds having this type of dormancy will not germinate until subjected to a particular duration of moist-prechilling and/or moist-warm periods.
Cold stratification (moist-prechilling) involves mixing seeds with an equal volume of a moist medium (sand or peat, for example) in a closed container and storing them in a refrigerator (approximately 40oF). Periodically, check to see that the medium is moist but not wet. The length of time it takes to break dormancy varies with particular species; check reference books to determine the recommended amount of time. This type of dormancy may be satisfied naturally if seeds are sown outdoors in the fall.
The problem with planting in the fall is they easily become food for squirrels and gophers! We soaked the seed 24 hours in warm water to start the breakdown of the shell and then kept in the fridge at about 34 degrees in damp peat moss. In early April we planted our pecan seed.
Planting is rather straightforward. We pulled existing weeds and rototilled the 50 foot row. After that we added about 2” of compost and rototilled again. A rake gave us a nice smooth seed bed to plant in. These were placed horizontally at 6” spacing. Placing vertically on Pecan, Hickory and Walnut gives a poor germination rate.
After planting we replaced the drip tape and mulched with straw about 3-4” deep. Pecans and many nuts will germinate and grow roots for a few months before actually starting any upward growth. Almost 2 months exactly and we are seeing the first tree break ground! We will field grow these for this year and containerize in the dormant season for sale or to use as understock for grafting.
After rototilling 3″ of compost is added
Seedbed is raked and ready to plant
You are never to young to plant a tree
Time to put that knowledge to work!