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We had this huge pecan tree that stood alone. The landlord said it used to put out paper shell pecans that could be cracked with one hand a decade ago. I also heard that smaller pecan trees put more nuts out and I wander why? All the nuts this large tree did put out were dry and shriveled on the inside. So one year I left water hose that leaked at the base of that tree all year and the nuts tripled and were full.

Do some trees requirement for water in the soil increase as they get larger to the point where the tree would thrive as a smaller tree but be stunted after a certain size?

  • Tree's regulate their growth based on their resources. It is more likely that this particular pecan use to have much more water than it does now. – Rob Dec 17 '18 at 19:38
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The larger the plant, the more water and nutrients it will use, generally speaking, but any fruiting plant requires good water supplies when its fruits start to form up until the fruit is ripe. If water is in short supply, it will affect the fruits first; in extreme cases, all the fruits may be allowed to shrivel and be discarded by the tree in order for it to survive for another year.

If your pecan fruits were edible and not shrivelled this year, then clearly it is not receiving enough water most years when the fruit is present. If the tree itself is healthy and still growing, it is getting enough moisture to keep growing, but insufficient moisture for the fruit to be good.

Any plant or tree which consistently does not receive sufficient water to ensure its survival will eventually become unhealthy and may actually die, but the chances are, if its that dry, even were it a smaller tree, it wouldn't be doing well, so it's not really linked with the maturity of the tree. Perhaps your area receives less annual rainfall now than it once did, given the various effects of climate change round the world.

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