I am finishing up some of the clearing work in the location where my pecan “orchard” is going. While most of the site being an old field was clear, there were some trees just above the field, mainly smaller or damaged ones, that had to go which are now cut and drying to be processed into biochar. Basically, the trees I was not willing to remove define the borders on two sides of the “orchard” with a ditch on the bottom and the property line on the east side.
My current plan is to space the trees 45 foot north to south, which is along a south facing hill. The trees will have 60’ clear east to west, which is from the property line to existing tree canopies. I can fit about 8 pecan trees at this spacing.
The soil in this area needs some work. Like most of my soil, it is mostly clay devoid of any life or nutrients. My strategy is to heavily amend around the trees initially to buy some time, and build up the rest of the soil over time.
My current plan is to:
run the subsoiler on the entire area to the extent possible to bust up compaction,
attempt to pull out the stumps and cut the stubborn ones flush,
re-subsoil and heavily amend the soil in the area directly around the trees (3’-4’) with some better topsoil or amendments prior to planting,
mulch the same area around the trees heavily with wood chips after planting,
plant annual ryegrass and crimson clover on the remaining portion of the orchard with intention of building that soil up over time.
Over time I would plan to chip and drop the cover crops, gradually add amendments to that area, and increase the wood chip perimeter around the trees yearly. This plan is because I don't have enough amendments to amend the entire area yet and if I don't amend at least some of the soil I am fairly confident the trees will not thrive/survive.