Hickory-pecans at zone 3/4 border?

I am wondering what experiences anyone has had with hickory-pecans, such as Badgersett sells. I read about them on their website a year or two ago. Now they seem to have backed way off on any hype about them, although they still carry them. I wonder if I can actually harvest anything resembling pecans in flavor and crackability at the border of zones 3 and 4 before I get too old to harvest them? I’ve been given recommendations of things to try, but has anyone in the Minneapolis area or farther north actually gotten any harvests?

I know that Phil Rutter does get yields off of his trees and I would think that if they work for him that they would work for you.

Where is Phil Rutter located?

Hmm. My own experience here, with seedling pecans, is that you’re looking at close to 20 years, minimum, for a seedling tree to come into bearing.
I have some grafted hickories and hicans that have been in the ground for 20 years and have yet to produce a nut; but pecans and a couple of hicans that I grafted onto established pecan seedlings began producing nuts in about 5-8 years.

The photos on the Badgersett site look like: (Left) shagbark nuts, (Right) bitternut nut. With them admitting, up front, that these are just seedlings from a mixed planting of shagbark, pecan, and bitternut… yeah, you could get a chance hybrid here and there in a batch of seedlings, but it’s more likely you’d just be getting a mix of shagbark, bitternut, and pecan seedlings. I’d sure hate to dedicate 20-30 years to growing out a bunch of bitternut seedlings… the nuts would be all but worthless - even squirrels eschew them until there’s nothing else left to eat - but you could use the wood to smoke meat or heat your house.

I’ve had access to what is probably ‘Pleas’ bitcan for 20 years… fairly large nut, thin shell; looks a lot like bitternut inside and out… and has some astringency like bitternut. Ripens very early here - like Sept 1 - but is a weevil magnet, and due to that and astringency, I don’t even bother picking them up any more

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Phil runs Badgersett nursery. It’s located in far SE MN, almost to IA. Big difference in climate down there vs. the Twin Cities.

Thanks, all, for the replies. It sounds like I would be ahead to just buy my pecans at the store. I do have two Northern Pecan seedlings from Woodstock/Wallace Nursery that I planted in 2015 and 2016. I’ll have to be satisfied with whatever they do (or don’t do).

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Years ago I tried pecans supposedly collected from some island in the Mississippi river near Clinton IA. I had heard they were the northernmost source of pecans.
The nuts were a bit shorter than commercial types but still very sweet. We tried growing them at the nursery I work at in SE WI and found they grew well but never bore nuts. Some thought that they perhaps were cold hardy here but just too cold to fruit? I surmised that they just need time to mature before bearing. Assuming they are at least like our local black walnuts that do not seem to bear until about 6" in trunk caliper.

We stopped growing pecan trees due to lack of sales. About 5 years later, the trees we left along the creek were just loaded with nuts one fall! Since then that area was developed and the trees got cut down.

I am not sure if anyone in Iowa still collects those native pecans but they sure were tasty!

Well… Sorry to say I don’t have experience growing it, but I read from Nutcrackernursery that Hican is suppose to be 4b. Shagbark Hickory is suppose to be 3b-4a. I do see Hickory nuts in the wood around here, but I am in zone 4b. I would definetly try a Hican and see…

If you’re going to try a hican, I’d recommend going with one that’s of shagbarkXpecan heritage, and preferrably one that originated in upper zone 6 , zone 5, or ‘colder’. The shellbarkXpecan hicans make a larger nut, but may not ripen as far ‘north’ as well a shagbarkXpecan hican.
Personally, I’d probably be inclined to plant some good shagbarks… and, if you’ve got room, try some ‘far-northern’ pecans.

Hicans are very vigorous growers, but are notoriously ‘shy’ bearers - and are weevil magnets. I have several, and no immediate plans to removed them, because I’ve got plenty of space (200 acres) … but if space was at a premium… they’d be considered too unproductive to remain.

200 acres!!!

OK, well 192+/-…
But about 80 of that is mixed hardwood forest, so not much space there to plant new stuff without doing a timber harvest first… about 5 acres at the house dedicated mostly to orchard and nut grove, and a 100-ft riparian bufferstrip along the creek that forms the eastern boundary of the farm…encompassing about 7 acres total - and that was planted to pecans/walnuts about 16 years ago… with the intent of topworking most of the pecan seedlilngs to named variety pecans and hickories… but they mostly ‘got away from me’ . 100 acres of cattle pasture- we have 80 head of beef cows + their calves, but we’ve slowly been planting mulberries, pecans, hickories along cross-fencelines to provide some shade in paddocks that don’t allow access to the woods’ edge.

I have more than I have really been able to adequately care for, with a full-time job and 4 kids… will probably be retiring in the next 5 years or so… and will probably be too tired or crippled to do what needs to be done when that time comes. But maybe if I take it slow…

Sounds like you got a nice chunk of Daniel Boone’s paradise.