Pecan trees (Carya illinoensis) have grown in the United States for hundreds of years and were valued as a food source by Native Americans. The trees grow quite large, reaching 60 to 80 feet. They are somewhat cold tolerant; young trees can be damaged by temperatures of 0 Fahrenheit. Growers should plant two different pecan trees for pollination purposes.
The University of Florida recommends Cape Fear pecan trees for their disease resistance--they are not susceptible to scab and are resistant to many leaf diseases. The trees bear nuts at five to seven years of age. Cape Fear trees have strong upright limbs. This makes them easy to train; once trees are established they need less pruning than those with weak limbs.
Moreland pecan trees display the same disease resistance as Cape Fear, making them another recommended backyard pecan tree. The trees bear large amounts of nuts each year; not all trees are such reliable producers.
The "Desirable" tree takes longer to bear pecans than other varieties, yielding nuts after eight to 10 years. This tree performs best in humid environments (such as southern Texas) that can challenge other pecan trees, according to Texas A&M. While Desirable does not bear large loads of pecans, the nuts have excellent quality.
Texas A&M recommends Caddo as a great all-around pecan tree. The tree bears in five to six years, slightly early. Its nuts are small, but high in quality. Caddo is moderately disease resistant and develops strong limbs that need less care than weak-limbed varieties.
Mohawk trees perform well in colder areas with early frosts, such as north Texas. The tree bears heavy loads with large kernels. Mohawk pecan trees have strong limbs.
Western pecan trees are ideal for gardeners who want a low-maintenance nut tree. The tree begins to bear fruit after five to seven years. While Western trees are susceptible to scab, they are strong and productive bearers and experience few other disease problems.