B. Rosie Lerner
Consumer Horticulturist







Question and Answer

Q. We have three pecan trees, planted in 1996. They started producing in about ten years. The first year there were about three mature nuts and about a dozen immature nuts. The following year there were about a dozen mature nuts and a dozen immature nuts. Since then they have produced only immature nuts. What are they missing? Do they need some kind of soil additive?

A. There are a number of challenges to growing a good pecan crop in Indiana. There are two major groups of pecan tree cultivars. The southern types are not hardy enough for our area and require a greater number of growing days than can be relied upon in Indiana. The northern types can be successfully grown in southern Indiana but are further sub-divided into two types. You must have at least one from each type to assure adequate cross-pollination. Group I includes the cultivars Giles, Major, Yates and Peruque. Major is said to be partially self-fruitful, meaning it can produce a partial crop even in the absence of another cultivar. Group II includes Colby, Lucas and Posey.

Assuming that your three trees are northern-hardy types and that they are cross-pollination compatible, there are still more challenges to nut production, such as summer drought, insect and disease. Check out the following resources for additional pecan information.

University of Illinois Extension:

Indiana Nut Growers Association

Q. I live in the very southern part of Daviess County, Indiana, and would like to get some more information on growing nut trees, almond trees in particular.

A. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but almonds are just not a good possibility for growing in Indiana. California is the only U.S. state active in commercial almond production. There are so-called hardy almonds, but even those are generally not viable for growing in Indiana. Their early spring blooming habits makes them quite susceptible to our normal spring frosts. These hardy almonds also have poor nut quality, compared to commercial almonds.

The good news is that there are several nut species that are well-adapted to Indiana: black walnut, filbert, and Chinese chestnut and in southern Indiana, perhaps some of the hardier selections of pecan and Carpathian walnut. University of Illinois Extension has a good overview of nut growing for home gardeners at Also see the Indiana Nut Growers Association website mentioned in the previous question.

green head of broccoli

Q. I am an avid gardener but I cannot get big heads of broccoli to grow in my garden. Everything else seems to do well. The last couple of years I have added cow manure and some duck manure to my 50'x25' garden. In the fall I put leaves on it and till it in. I get big plants but broccoli heads no bigger than 2-3 inches in diameter. I would really like to get some big heads like you see in the grocery stores.

A. Sounds to me like perhaps you have over done the application of manure, since the plants are thriving but the harvest small. Keeping in mind that the harvested portion of broccoli is the immature flower buds, you want to avoid over-fertilizing with nitrogen. Fresh manure is going to be particularly high in nitrogen, but even composted, rotted manure can overdo it. Try reducing the amount of manure this year, or if you've already applied the manure, try growing your broccoli in a separate bed or container garden for this season. Assuming that the manure is well composted when applied, you can use that area for nitrogen-craving foliage crops such as lettuce, spinach and chard. Additional information on growing broccoli and other vegetables can be found in the Purdue Extension Home Gardener's Guide at


Writer: B. Rosie Lerner
Editor: Olivia Maddox,