Visiting a pecan farm in Missouri, and pecan industry
08/07/18  |  Views:5273  

I am introducing a mail from Mr. John Knorr, Director of NeNGA(Nebraska nuts Growing Association) first.

RE: pecan

‎Nov‎ ‎21‎, ‎2014 at ‎5‎:‎46‎ ‎PM

Ken, the seed source for nut trees in general that grow in the north almost always comes from northern seed source and not from the south.  A prime example is black walnuts in the south like from Oklahoma will not survive in the north.  So nurseries in the north do not touch southern seed.  Pawnee seedlings seem to be more apt to be affected with early frost than other cultivars in kill effect. Pawnee''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''s nuts also have later mature date so they are more apt to be effected by early frost and not mature.  It is a good nut but production can be effected by cold weather.  As I mentioned before heat unit are vary important here in the north.

I know that in the pecan industry, especially in supplying nuts in the shell to eat to China, they always want the biggest which may not be the best tasting.  But bigger usually appeals in the eye of the beholder as bigger is better. But a connoisseur of taste will most likely taste the difference.  Just like for Thanksgiving, pecan pie is a favorite and 95% of pecan pies here have southern pecans.  And one think the pie tastes great.  But what they are tasting is all of the stuff around the pecan and not the pecan.

I made a mistake when I said below about "50 seed count per pound or less".  I ment Less as being smaller not larger.  So seeds/lb would be higher than lower.

I dealing with the environment, there is no silver bullet when trying to come up with the needed heat units to allow larger nuts to grow.  But the northern pecans do have overall better taste and not as dry as southern pecans.    




Kenneth, the inventory of available Northern pecan seeds from the 2014 crop harvest has been taken. 

I do not know your knowledge of northern pecans verse southern.  So I wrote some information below.

Northern pecans have the characteristics of being able to withstand cold northern climates as compared to southern pecans.  The root stock has to withstand freezing temperatures.  The northern pecan Cultivar producing tree has to be able to produce a male & female flower when out of northern freezing temperatures.  The maturity of the nut must also be out of the fall freezing temperature.  Heat units are important.  This means about a two months shorter growing season compared to the southern pecan.  And therefore the nuts are not as large as southern nuts.  But because of a of a shorter growing season the nut meat retains oils that gives the nut meat what we call a better taste.  The southern pecans have a longer growing season and the nut meats have a tendency of being more dried out with less flavor.

The University of Nebraska has developed and tested northern pecan cultivars for our northern climate over the last 40 years.  Now, the best cultivars have been propagated throughout the midwest, Canada, Europe and including South Korea.  To get early production and to insure the Cultivar pecan tree one desires, one needs to go through the grafting method of propagation with the scion wood from the Cultivar tree wants.   

The Northern cultivars here that grow good and produce good nuts are Kansas,Cobly, Posey, Shepherd and Pawnee. 

The seed count varies from about 60 to less.  Based upon moisture content.

The seeds are keep in a large cooler where temperature and moisture can be controlled for the required stratification time to germinate properly before planting.

Sorry for the delay, but I needed to check NeNGA growers availability.

Let me know your thoughts and we will go from there.  But yes, we can provide cultivar seed that is about 60 or less but are the best current northern pecan seeds available.



John Knorr

Director of NeNGA

Nebraska is located at the north of Kansas and is similar in temperature to New York(USDA zone 5).

pecan growing areas.

  1. Pecan''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''s cold resistance problem

Mr. William Reid, a pecan expert in Kansas, in an experiment, wrote that Lakota and Pawnee, the northern species, have the best cold tolerance. One of pecan grower in Missouri I visited today told me Kanza is strongest in the cold. Even the Kanza resisted no damage to minus 30 degrees C, but one of Texas native cultivar that his father planted was mostly devastated by the cold waves in 1970’.

Looking at the US pecan cultivation area,

Pecan Production By State:


Pecan Production By State





% Of U.S.








New Mexico



































South Carolina





























United States


The map above includes Nebraska, Kansas and the Great Lakes Coast, which is the result of several people developing high tolerance varieties and trial cultivation in northern latitudes.








Average high in °C:







Average low in °C:














Average high in °C:







Average low in °C:







The above chart shows anual temperature in Miami, Oklahoma where they grow Mohawk, Pawnee, Barton, and Colby.

 Farmer Al


In the case of South Korea, it began to be planted mainly in the southern part around Jeolla province. The South Korean province has a temperature distribution of about the same as that of Kentucky and Tennessee in the United States.  It would be hard to see yet how much cold resistance the pecan seeds supplied to Korea in the past few years, but most of the northern varieties were simply named as northern species. I have also classified only Northern species as native species and modified species, except for some of the genealogical varieties.

The most pecan cultivation here in US is by grafting. Most of the large pecan farms in Tennessee, Kentucky, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois that I have studied have gained large nuts through grafting, but in native species they were harvesting only small ones. It is also true that native species (native pecan) are produced vigorously due to long life span of 200 years. But if you build a new pecan farm, you will get a big nut only by grafting. In the case of S. Korea, there are less grafted ones than the numbers of seedlings. If the seeds from improved cultivars are sown, the fruit will be smaller than that of mother tree. One of the bigger problem is the cultivation period. If it takes 20 years to make a vigorous harvest, does not it take too long? Even if the tree starts bearing nut from the seventh to eighth years, it will take about 12 years with seedlings for commercial production. So it will be only good for next generation. On the other hand, grafted pecan tree start to harvest fruit several years. Of course, after 15-20 years, the production is more intense. Especially, if it is fertile and good soil, and there is more fertilization and more weed removal, so the harvest becomes more and more.

I looked around Dan’s farm today and asked him many questions, especially the growth rate of trees. He cut off some trees and grafted on them. The results were great that of the grafted ones are 4-5 metes tall already within 4-5 years. As much it is important to have good root stock. When I visited Jerry Lehman’s farm in Indiana, he said he used a native walnut tree grafting improved black walnut on it. As much supporting power works.

What are the first requirements for selecting root stock in Illinois, Missouri, Illinois? The first thing is cold tolerance. So Dan recommended Kanza first from his 40 years of experience. He says he is experimenting with more than 40 different types of pecans on 200 acres of pecan farms. Pecan expert Mr. Williams Reid ranked Lakota as the best cold tolerant varieties and highly ranked among the most popular varieties in terms of stable productivity. Lakota is the newest varieties, but grafted seedlings are available, but it is difficult to find seeds yet. And Pawnee is also recommendable among the northern varieties. If it is a fruit size issue, Pawnee is the biggest one in Kansas and Missouri. It has thin skin and excellent flavor. So called paper shell!


In terms of cold tolerance, Kanza, Lakota, and Pawnee are considered to be suitable for USDA zone 5, and Mohawk and other northern species are suitable for USDA zone 6. However, if the planting is done in a flowerpot, it can get damaged because the flowerpot is frozen in its entirety. If it is planted directly in the garden, it can be wintered. Covering tunnel also works if not in green house.

  1. Seedlings and grafted ones

There are many companies that supply grafted pecan trees in the US, but only a limited number of places sell scion woods. If you send fruit trees abroad, most of the country require isolated cultivation for a certain period of time.

The trip is four-days and three-nights journey. I drove more than 1,000-miles (1,600-kilometers) over four states, including Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and South Oklahoma, It continues to travel 300 miles to the east and west and 300 miles to the north and south. I felt the difference in temperature as the trail of snow disappeared from some point.


  1. Selection of root stock

For northern species, it is better to plant Pawnee, Kanza, and northern native species (native species) with good cold resistance. But if you are actually going to graft on them, one of kind is enough.

The next step in determining the quality of the fruit depends on what you are grafting. Pollination also acts as a constant part of the success.

The problem of productivity is affected by soil, irrigation, weeding, manure, and pest control. Naturally, it is affected by cold weather in spring and autumn, flood, and drought.

  1. Selection of varieties

Lakota has recently been released and has a low production volume. Kanza is cold-resistant, but it is smaller than Mohawk. The Pawnee is 45 nuts per pound (454 grams) on record, but it gets smaller as you go north. Sizes identified in Missouri and Illinois are around 50-70 nuts / pound Among the northern species, the Mohawk have the largest nuts, but its growing zone is up to USDA 6.

From left to right -Kanza, Pawnee, and Mohawk.

Mr. Williams Reid of Kansas counts Kanza as the most tolerable varieties, because the production is constant every year, regardless of climatic conditions. Kanza has a protein membrane and protects it until the meat is full.


<Pecan harvest>

American pecan arable land is a flat field. The tractor needs space to move freely. By shaking the pecan tree some number of pecans and leaves will fall. 

Then, pick up the pecan nuts with a roller rake like a golf ball picker, and the straws are discharged again.
















<Shelling pecan>

<Pecan nuts Sales in US>

The whole pecan, in shell, is sold for $ 5-8 per pound. Shelled pecan costs 8-12 dollars.

There are a lot of nuts in the US market. Once I got the macadamia nuts from Florida, I cannot forget the taste while some macadamia nuts covered with chocolate was nothing to me. Pecan in shells will be the best choice for East Asian country's New Year's Day.


When I was a student, I planted a pine tree directly in the back mountain in Pocheon, Gyeonggi - do. It is hard to pick pine these days, but the Japanese chestnuts, in my ancestor’s home town, at the mountains near the Yong-in Nature Farm in Gyeonggi province are long remembered. From now on, if you do not use a large-scale planting machine, you will not be profitable. For pecans, the planting spacing is about 30-40 feet (9-10 meters). It produces on 20 acres (24,500 pyeong) average 45,000 pounds (20,430 kilo), a little less than a kilogram per square meter. This is the case when you have grown well without a natural disaster. The cold of spring and fall have the greatest adverse effect, followed by drought, manure, and pests.

it will be a good pollinator each other if planting Pawnee and Mohawk. Kanza and Pawnee for cold area.

The best way will be grafting Pawnee on Kanza root stock.

By seedling it will take more than 12 years for commercial production. It will be possible after 7-8 years by grafted trees. After planting pecan root stock for 2-3 years grafting with improved varieties is mostly recommended.

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