Are my Pecan trees dead?

I planted 2 pecan trees a month ago. About a week after planting, I noticed that they were brown under the surface when doing a scratch test, but only at the bottom 3-4 inches. Everything above that is green with the scratch test. Even now, a month later, it’s still the same. I can’t imagine they’re still alive if the bottom section is dead. But how/why is the top still alive?


A picture may be useful for assessing the condition of the plant.
I live on the other side of the world and have not seen a Pecan tree before. So it is winter now in many parts of the world. In the winter months, some plants will not grow much. Some parts of USA are warmer.
A general planting technique is not to plant the young trees deeper than its previous soil level. The stem which was previously not in contact with the soil may rot when planted too deep.
I think you can wait a while to see if the trees start to grow.


I can take some pictures tomorrow in the day time.

Some more detailed info:

I planted these trees along with a bunch of other saplings, all of which survived. They are all bare root. So I’m not sure how helpful the pictures will be. They are roughly 3 feet/1 meter tall.

I have the pecan trees, along with all the others, planted at the same level where the roots were. I just wonder if they spent too much time not in the ground. I read that they can be somewhat difficult to transplant.

The confusing part to me is that they still seem alive above a certain point. I just don’t know how if the bottom part is dead. And if the bottom part isn’t dead, why is all the outer wood at the base of the tree dead. Maybe it’s just a slow process. I can’t imagine them surviving like this, but I am pretty new to planting trees.

A scratch test on a sapling is usually done on the trunk about halfway up the tree. If the tissue there is living, I think it is highly unlikely that the base is dead.


I would need a picture to tell, but it sounds like your pecan trees are large enough that their stems are greater than 4 inches. Tree cells are dead on the outside of the trunk (“wood”), but live cells are in the middle of the trunk in the form of a vascular system, which provides water and nutrients to stems higher up.

Pecan trees are deciduous, so I would leave them alone until spring (April or May) because that’s when the leaves should grow in. If you scratch too much off the trunk before the trees can grow, you might wipe the bark away and inadvertently kill the trees.


Here’s an update with the pictures.
First is the full tree. A little over 3 feet tall.
Second is a scratch test from midway up the tree. Green underneath. You can see the thickness of the tree in these shots.
Third is a scratch test from around the base of the tree. Not green.

All the other trees I planted around this time aren’t like this. But maybe Pecan just has thicker wood at the base?

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Third picture is still green and living. It would be a deeper brown if it had died.


Thank you everyone for your helpful comments!

Pecans can be awfully fussy; I’ve never tried to grow them, but some of my relatives have. One of my cousins used to say that, more than with any other nut or fruit tree, pecans needed patience, because they would surely try yours.

My suggestion pretty much echoes those above: if you don’t see buds by April, worry then. (Also, remember to paint over the scratches with an antifungal.) :smiley:


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