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Selecting the Best Pecan Trees for a Backyard Orchard

Tip

Always plant pecans away from buildings and power lines; they can reach more than 60 feet in height.

It can take up to 20 years for a pecan tree to begin nut production.

Warning

Avoid excessive pruning or trimming; the trees will quickly fill in again and pruning leaves them make them vulnerable to disease.

Pecan trees are popular for backyard orchards because they produce edible nuts. Most pecan trees grow in the southern U.S.; they do not tolerate freezing temperatures very well and prefer a more mild climate. There are many varieties of pecan trees, including some that are more cold hardy and can be grown fArther north. Begin looking for trees for your orchard at local nurseries first you can pick a variety suited to your particular climate.

Choose at least two and preferably three varieties of pecan trees for your orchard. A minimum of two is required for successful pollination. Choose at least one Type I variety that release pollen early, and one Type II tree that produces flowers first.

Choose a variety that is resistant to most diseases and infections that affect pecan trees. Effective treatment is expensive and time consuming for the backyard gardener. Choose disease resistance capabilities over nut production and quality.

Decide on bare-root trees or container trees. Bare-root trees must be planted immediately to avoid damage to the tree; they already have strong tap roots that aren't root bound. Plant container grown pecan trees when the conditions are right and the timing is convenient, but avoid trees that have become root bound with root balls too large for the pot.

Determine whether an early, mid or late season variety is best for your climate. Choose early producing pecan in areas with mild winters with little to no winter frosts. Choose mid-season varieties in areas with mild springs that quickly heat up in summer. Late season varieties grow best in areas with long summers that stretch into the fall months.

Check with your extension office before making a final decision on pecan varieties to plant. There are more than 1,000 varieties of pecans and each has been developed to grow best in specific micro-climates and soil conditions. Ask the extension office to check for the variety that grows best in your county or zip code.

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