Growing Pecan Tree: Varieties, Planting Guide, Care, Problems and Harvest

Pecan pie is a phrase with two meanings. Do you pay attention now? You should grow pecans if you have the space and time, not just to make dessert.

They may also be utilized in savory food or to make some extra money. They’re also a lovely landscape tree, offering cool shade on a sunny day on top of that.

Pecans are a classic dessert nut and originated in the southern United States. My favorites include pecan pie, pralines, ice cream, and maple pecan tarts. My mouth is watering at the thought of pecan-based recipes.

All About Pecans

The pecan tree is a huge deciduous tree that produces delicious nuts. It is native to the United States. The pecan is a delectable oily nut that has a lot of flavor and is pronounced puh-KAHN, not pee-can.

Pecan trees may grow to be 130 feet tall if left untended. They prefer warmer climates and are most often cultivated commercially in Texas and Louisiana, where they flourish.

The hickory family includes pecans. In order to create fruit, they need warm summers with warm night temperatures.

Pecans benefit from having more than one in their garden because they do best when crossed-pollinated with another tree.

Best Varieties

Pecans come in a variety of cultivars, each with its own unique properties. Cold hardy varieties and varietals are available that aren’t quite as tall as others. Ask your local extension agent for suggested cultivars in the area.

There are a few that are worth looking into:


Candy is a young maturing variety that begins to produce at a early age. In the early fall, it produces mature nuts. They’re a more reasonable size than other kinds, with a mature height of 60 feet and a 40-foot spread. USDA Zone 6-9.


For pecan pie, this is the perfect variety. It’s a fast-growing, hardy cultivar that bears at around five years and produces massive quantities of meaty, thin-shelled nuts. It grows well in the deep south, where it is heat tolerant. Late September brings the ripening process to a close. Peruque is the finest pollinator companion variety. It grows in Zones 5-9.


Because it grows quickly and produces big, tasty nuts in large clusters, this cultivar has been extensively grown commercially. The pecans are packed in at a density of 48 per pound, which is excellent. From October to November, it is ripe. ‘Kanza’ or ‘Lakota’ are the two best cross-pollinators. It thrives in Zones 6-9 and is tolerant of heat.


Lakota is a fast-growing, easy-to-shell variety. It’s a tall tree that thrives in the windy regions of the central plains and has delicious cream-to-golden kernels. Pecan scab disease resistance. Pawnee or Desirable are the best pollinators. Zones 6-9 are the best places to grow it.


Because of its smaller size, ‘Pawnee’ is a particularly popular pecan for growing in northern climates. It has thrived in Rhode Island, Michigan, and Washington.

The height of this cultivar ranges from 20 to 30 feet, with a 20-foot spread. It blooms in the middle of October. ‘Kanza,’ or ‘Lakota,’ are the best cross-pollinators. It thrives in Zones 5-9.


Peruque is one of the most prolific types, with an average 80 nuts per pound. The thin shell of medium-sized pecans makes them easy to harvest.

It blooms late and ripens in mid-September, but it does better in warmer regions. ‘Colby’ or ‘Lakota’ are the best pollinator options for Zone 5-8.

Planting Pecans

In well-draining soil, pecans adore being in the sun. Rocks and hard clay are what they hate. Loamy sand is ideal, but you’ll need to adjust your soil if you don’t have it. Wherever you want to plant your pecans, test the soil drainage. The ideal soil has a depth of at least three feet.

If water sits around pecan trees, their taproot allows disease to flourish in the roots. Hilltops are the ideal spot for this reason. Avoid frost-prone areas.

Make sure you understand the variety’s mature height and width before you plant it. Because they grow so big, space them 60 to 80 feet apart. Don’t put them near buildings, septic systems, or power lines; otherwise they’ll get destroyed.

Putting Transplants in the Ground

You’ll need to buy a young tree since pecans don’t grow true from seed. A tree between 4 and 8 feet tall is recommended by horticulturists. This variety is easy to transplant at this size.

To eliminate any air pockets, soak roots before planting and wet the soil as you refill the hole.

Dig a pecan-worthy hole. My horticultural agent informed me of this! Make a hole that is three feet deep and broad.

To help the soil drain, mix one-third peat or sand with the excavated soil. Then fill in the bottom two feet of the hole. We want plenty of loose soil under the tree’s roots.

Plant the tree at the same level as the soil. Water well after finishing the remainder of your soil mix around the tree.

Remember: Cross Pollination is Key

To get excellent pollination, you’ll need to plant at least two trees. When pollen from two or more pecans mixes together, they produce better.

Caring for Pecans

It’s almost time to sit back and relax in the shade of your tree now that the back-breaking work of digging a hole is over. Here are the things you should understand in order for it to survive and create:


Wild pecans are thirsty plants that live in creeks and rivers. Plant your young tree somewhere near water access, as it will need around 10-15 gallons of water every week for optimum growth.

They will need two inches of water every week even as they grow and begin producing. For optimum results, water them along a drip line.


They’re not only thirsty, they’re hungry as well. A spring application of organic fertilizer is beneficial for pecans. Also, give them a two-inch layer of compost every spring.

The need for additional zinc is high in pecans. Spray zinc sulfate onto the nuts every three weeks starting at bud break until they’re ready to be harvested. For every 100 gallons of water, you’ll want to use 2-3 pounds of zinc.


Organic mulch, such as straw or wood chips, helps to retain moisture and prevent weeds.


The nursury may have pruned the tree’s first before you purchased it. You should trim back the crown and taproot a bit before planting if it hasn’t done so already. This will help promote rapid development.


When growing pecans, there are just a few things you should watch for:


Pecans may be infected with this fungus. On the leaves, branches, and nut husks of the plant, it produces black spots. Holes in the leaves may appear as the spots expand.

The husk or shuck may stick to the nut if scab contacts it early in the process. It may make nuts smaller. For prevention, use Serenade® Garden Disease Control.

Crown Gall

Pecans may be stunted and grow slowly if either crown or root gall affects them. They may have little leaves and do not produce fruit.

Examine the roots of a dead tree for hard, woody ‘tumors.’ Root gall is the source of all problems.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for this bacterial illness.


Little spider cousins, aphids and mites, suck the sap from plant leaves. The leaves take on a wrinkled or thick appearance as a result of this. The leaves often yellow and die after that.

Aphids may be dealt with in a variety of ways, including by knocking them off plants with a strong stream of water. Insecticidal soap, such as Safer Brand, or neem oil, can be used.

Pecan Nut Casebearer

A small grey moth called the pecan nut casebearer (Acrobasis nuxvorella). When growing pecans, it’s one of the most harmful nut-eating pests you’ll face.

In early spring, the larvae emerge from their cocoon and feed on the surface of opening flowers. After that, continue to grow by boreing into the tender shoots. Every year, there may be two or three generations.

In early spring, the larvae emerge from the cocoon and feed on the outside of opening buds. Next, bore into the growing shoots to sustain them. Every year, there are two or three generations.

Inconsistent Fruiting

Pecans have a habit of being picky. Every year isn’t the same for them. Trees that are more than a decade old may be particularly unreliable, especially when it comes to alternate-bearing pecan fruit patterns like ‘Cape Fear,’ ‘Creek,’ and ‘Pawnee.’

They stop producing fruits for a few years and save energy. Researchers aren’t sure why pecans choose to take some years off, but it usually happens when they sense a drought coming or don’t like the cold wet spring you’re having.

Fruiting stress has a negative impact on the following year’s crop, so it is important to reduce stress. During blooming, this involves pest management, excellent watering, and fertilization.

When your tree begins to produce a large harvest, you may thin immature nuts off the tree if you find that you’re having regular trouble with alternate-bearing. This encourages the tree to conserve energy for the following year.

Harvesting Pecans

Harvest your nuts between September and November depending on the variety and your growing zone. A mature tree will produce around 40 to 50 pounds of nuts each year.

When the exterior layer, or shuck, of a pecan splits open, it’s ready to be harvested. Nuts frequently land on the ground.

Grab them as soon as they start to topple over. Moisture on the ground isn’t something you want. In addition, you want to keep the squirrels at bay!

To release the nuts, give the tree a vigorous shake.

Examine the nuts for cracks or breaks. You may leave any damaged plants for the squirrels and deer if they have holes or insect damage. Hogs will also eat nuts as a forage crop.


For approximately two weeks, the nuts must dry. Place them on a raised screen door or wire rack that is out of the sun, so they’ll remain flat.

They will keep for many months if stored in an airtight container in the pantry. They can be kept in a refrigerator for six months or in a deep freeze for a year.

Pecans are huge trees that take five to six years to bring forth, similar to other nuts. That may seem like a long time, but it will be worth it in the end. If you decide to sell the extras, pecans are very productive and make a decent money crop.

In most grocery shops, pecans are costly. Growing a few pecan trees will not only provide you with inexpensive pecans, but also give you several extra to sell as a cash crop.

For the quantity of pecans you get, growing pecans is also rather simple!

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