Selecting Pecan Varieties

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Q: I want to plant some pecan trees. What type of varieties should I consider?

 A:        We are fortunate in Eastern North Carolina to be able to grow pecans in our backyards. Our region is on the northern fringe of pecan production in the United States. As you move north or west, the limiting factor becomes the length of the growing season.

If you are planning on planting some pecan trees, selecting varieties will be one of the most important decisions you will make in order to successfully grow pecans. Some pecan varieties are not profitable because of their susceptibility to insect pests and diseases such as pecan scab. Although there are numerous pecan cultivars to choose from, only a few are suitable for yard-tree planting because many home gardeners are unable to adequately apply pesticides into a large tree. Scab-resistant varieties can produce quality pecan kernels with low-input management.

Pollination requirements for pecans must be considered when selecting cultivars. Pecan trees are monoecious, meaning they have separate male structures, called catkins, and female flowers on the same tree. The time at which the male catkins release pollen is not the time at which the female flowers can be pollinated. Because of this pollination situation, pecan tree cultivars are separated into two pollination groups referred to as Type I and Type II. For optimum pollination, you should plant at least three varieties and include Type I and Type II varieties in your selection. Type I recommended cultivars for our area include Cape Fear and Pawnee. Type II recommended cultivars include Stuart, Sumner, Forkert, Chicksaw, Elliot, Kiowa and Gloria Grande. All cultivars have positive and negative aspects, so it is important to do some research on these different cultivars before purchasing. Also, be aware that there are many other pecan cultivars out there however all are not suited for our Eastern North Carolina climate.      

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 Jessica Strickland is an Agriculture Extension Agent, specializing in horticulture for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Wayne County. Forward any questions you would like answered from this week’s column to