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Forest Canopy Layer: Are loblolly pines compatible with pecan trees?

Posts: 20
Location: Oklahoma
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Climate: Central Oklahoma Zone 7a/b (RIGHT on the edge of zones)

Soil/Site: Very Windy
                        Prairie Clay -It's not a prairie, but this is as close as it comes.  Great nutritious soil by way of underground water and erosion.
                        High water table. Good drainage, but high.
                        Drought is common
                        Slope (I haven't measured.  Maybe 1.5:12)
                        Heavy Ice Storms

It's a barren slope exposed to wind where I want to establish the food forest.  Pines are favorable in this climate and my most important trees for canopy layer.  
I don't like evergreens, but they should be included.  I like the tall pines such as loblolly which will grow taller than the pecan.

Will loblolly tolerate pecan or visa vis?
Will tall pines survive ice storms and the high winds?  

We rarely have very tall trees because of the ice storms.  Arkansas is no different and there are a plethora of pine forests in Arkansas.  I suppose the protective nature of mass plantings shelter them.

How many should I plant?  I'm working with 1/6th of an acre.

I'm not certain if I can make this work.  

I could plant some sumac or something as a protectant until the trees protect themselves.  Any suggestions?  

Other trees going in:  pawpaw, redbud, bushes (nitrogen-fixing), currants and berry bushes.  
Posts: 11802
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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This is an interesting question.  Here's a reference to Pecan growing in association with Loblolly Pine:  https://projects.ncsu.edu/project/dendrology/index/plantae/vascular/seedplants/gymnosperms/conifers/pine/pinus/australes/loblolly/habitat.html

The article also lists many other species which grow with Loblolly.  I think the main thing to keep in mind is that Pecans are considered shade intolerant, so can't be under the Loblolly canopy:  https://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/volume_2/summary_of/tree_characteristics.htm
bonnie bright
Posts: 20
Location: Oklahoma
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Ah the sun. That's true.  I have room to space them.  I will consider this when I do my site plan.  
Thank you for taking the time to hit the right keywords for the search.  
I couldn't pull anything decent (probably algorithms trying to sell me stuff.)  

You link brought up some other interesting natural tree guilds and includes some other trees within planting consideration, like sassafras and pawpaw. It also mentions hickory being found among loblolly.  If my studies are correct, hickory is more allelopathic than pecan, but they are within the same realm of allelopathy.  If hickory is okay, pecan should be.  It appears from the review that hickory is not the more common and I may need to watch for specific microclimate to help encourage companionship.  Or maybe they'll do just fine.  

When I stopped to search with "how does loblolly pine propagate" I noticed the Oklahoma Forestry site has information about loblolly as a native species.  
I can call them.  They suggest growth is with slightly acidic soil.  Like the link to the publications, I think they are referring to
growth for maximum production.  My higher pH (testing at neutral to 7.4) might mean slower growth or potential for illness, wounds, etc.  

I wish I had a pic.  We have an older tall pine tree, like loblolly, nearby our other property that is bent over from a heavy ice storm in 2010.  I think it was originally 3-3/4 stories tall.  
The bend exists at the 2nd story.  It is significant.  I don't know why it's still alive.  I must keep this in mind and do some research and ask locally.  Consequently, where that tall bent pine tree groans there are 20-year-old cedar trees nearby.  This might suggest the soil is acidic.  I need to test.  It would answer quite a few questions.

I'd rather not be picky and just try it out, but this creation is for my children, not my life time.  I'd like to get it right.


Posts: 6686
Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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All the Pinus and Juniperus species will acidify their soils both with root exudates and needle drop.

Pecan and Hickory are related so if one will grow somewhere, so too the other.

Posts: 64
Location: Missouri
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Hey Bonnie,

I thought I'd add my two cents to your post.

I regularly work in the Forests of Arkansas and Missouri and spend a lot of time in the Big Pine woods.  Loblolly pine is a really impressive species, but I'm not sure it is the ideal one for your needs.  If you were planting your pecans in a spot that was similar to where you'd find them in a natural forest, commonly in riparian areas and flood plains, you'd be in good shape to pair them with Loblolly...the thing the state website you looked at might not have mentioned is the native range of loblolly, while vast, was generally restricted to mesic sites.  In dry and upland areas several other species of pine compete better with periodic drought.  When you mentioned the pine woods of Arkansas you were spot on that many of the privately owned plantations were loblolly...but that is mainly due to their agressive growth characteristics and the extensive breeding work that has been done to create several hybrid generations of the species that produce traits desired in the wood products industry.  In the historic forests of Arkansas, and most commonly on the Ouachita National Forest today, Short leaf pine is the most common upland pine species in the pine forests of the Arkansas and Oklahoma Ozarks.  Short leaf is uncommon in private plantations becuse it grows much slower than Loblolly does.  The other thing one will notice when comparing range distributions maps of the two species is the northern restriction of Loblolly.  When you said you get ice, I imediately thought loblolly was wrong for you.  The tree form, branch attachment, long delicate needles and fast growth of loblolly all create a tree that falls apart top to bottom in heavy ice.  Short leaf pines grow successfully into Missouri and withstand ice considerably better.  

In short,  I'd suggest looking at planting short leaf pine on your site.  Shortleaf are native to Oklahoma, they commonly grow to canopy height of 60-90, they have a desireable form and can live for hundreds of years.  Ontop of that Shortleafs tolerate ice better than loblolly and commonly grew in savanah and woodland densities that would be of a similar tree spacing to what you would need to give enough sunlight to your pecans.  

Just some thoughts.  Hope they help

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