Bareroot transplant failures

Asked January 20, 2014, 4:53 PM EST

I have a problem with bareroot transplant failure for pecans and walnuts. Bareroot transplants of peaches, pears, apples work fine. The problem is that the transplanted tree will bud out and grow until mid-summer and then within one week the leaves will turn brown, cambrium turns brown, and new shoots will sprout below the graft. The trees are well watered and some even have 18 inches of new growth before the dieback event occurs. I cutback the trees about 1/4 - 1/3 at planting. Any ideas? Thanks

Red River County Texas trees and shrubs pecan horticulture bare root tree walnut trees horticulture

1 Response

I really don't have a good answer for your difference in transplant success among those different species. The English Walnut may be succumbing to Walnut Blight, but we don't have similar diseases on pecans that will kill the above-ground portions of a pecan tree. You do need to inspect trees for signs of boring insects, which can be a problem for establishment.
The culture and procedures for establishing bareroot specimens of pecan and pear and apple should generally be the same, so if you are having success with some and not all, I would advise comparing the planting locations for the nut trees to the other fruits. Perhaps the soil is more coarse (sandy) or more dense (clayey) causing you to have differential performance from similar watering practices.
Do the plants originate from the same nursery? If not, we might suspect some difference in condition of the plants when you receive them. Are all the species similar size when you receive them? If the nut trees are significantly larger, that factor could play a role in establishment. Larger nursery stock require close attention to watering to support the greater size and vigor that you start with.
Make sure that you are not overwatering some of these plants. Most transplant failures result from insufficient water, but if the soil doesn't drain well it is very possible stress plants with overwatering, causing them to fade in the summer.

Again, we don't have a clear answer, but you may consider sending plants that have recently died to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Plant Disease Diagnostic lab. http://plantclinic.tamu.edu.For approximately $30 fee, they will look closely at roots and other portions of the tree and attempt to provide you a diagnosis.
Additionally, your local county extension agent may be able to look at your planting site, soil and watering system and provide additional insight into why you have not been more successful.