Saturday, June 28, 2014

Planting Pecan Trees with the Groasis Waterboxx

Pecans are one of the few truly all American foods.  Pecan, so named in the Algonquin Indian language because it was a nut that was so hard it required a stone to crack, is native to North America.  Settlers ate wild pecans, and today ~90% of all pecans are grown in the U.S.  In the author's opinion, pecan pie, not apple pie, should be considered the quintessential American desert (as apples are originally from central Asia).

Pecan trees can grow in USDA zones 5-9, but generally do better in the southern states.  Pecan trees generally grow between 70-100 feet tall, but have grown taller.  They have a moderate growth rate once established, but are very slow to establish without help due to their root structure.

For those seeking to plant pecans mainly as a landscape tree, as always the Arbor Day Foundation is an excellent source of bare root trees.  For those looking to plant pecan trees for nut production, however, grafted trees are strongly recommended.  Grafted trees start nut production earlier and enable more reliable nut production.

New Mexico State University provides excellent information about buying grafted pecan trees.  They recommend root stock 3-4 years old and scion wood 1-2 years old, with a diameter (caliper) of 5/8 - 1 inch.

Pecan trees can be very difficult to establish, especially in the dry Southwest states.  Pecan trees have a true tap root initially, meaning they have one central root that grows straight down.  This is similar to many other nut trees and allows the trees to access deep soil capillary water during periods of drought.  However, it also makes the pecan trees very difficult to establish.  The roots need to be kept almost constantly wet until they establish lateral roots, and this can entail a huge water bill, many times the initial cost of the tree, not to mention the cost of the labor to install irrigation or move hoses between the bases of trees at least once weekly.  Is there a solution that eliminates the need for irrigation of the newly planted pecan?  Yes - and it is called the Groasis Waterboxx.

The Groasis Waterboxx is a self refilling water battery, and plant incubator which is placed around the newly planted pecan (or any other tree).  It is filled with 4 gallons of water, and the soil beneath the Waterboxx is saturated with up to 10 gallons of water.  The Waterboxx has a wick which allows water to be slowly released to the growing tap root of the pecan.  The Waterboxx is refilled from dew and rain.  The Waterboxx, although 10 inches high, can be completely refilled with 4 inches of rain.  With proper set up, the Waterboxx achieves water homeostasis, meaning it will not run dry even without refilling.  This is because it is able to fill with condensation most nights and utilize and store rarer rains.

The Waterboxx also prevents the soil beneath it from drying out (its UV resistant plastic is impermeable to water).  This both sustains the tap root of the pecan and induces it to grow to deep capillary water quickly.  The Waterboxx can be left around the base of the pecan tree until the caliper (diameter) of the trunk reaches almost 3 inches.  The mechanism of the Waterboxx is explained clearly below.

Of note the Waterboxx has been used for many other trees, including red oakGiant Sequoiapear and other fruit trees.  It can also be used for annual garden plants like pumpkins.

Be the first in your area to start growing pecans with the Groasis Waterboxx.  Buy the Groasis Waterboxx here (from Dew Harvest).  Pecan trees grown for nut production can be purchased from Stark Brothers Nursery.

If you would like to learn how to grow plants without watering with the Waterboxx, the best resource is the book The Waterboxx Gardener: How to Mimic Nature, Stop Watering, and Start Enjoying Your Garden available here on 

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