Pecan growers battling a tree ailment called “mouse-ear” can now rest assured that help is on the way, thanks in part to Agricultural Research Service scientists who discovered that the condition is caused by a nickel deficiency in the plant.

The ARS discovery has led to a commercial fertilizer application to control mouse-ear. This growth and development abnormality, recognized as “little-leaf” in other crops, is becoming increasingly common in second-generation pecan orchards where new trees are planted.