Enjoy the write up and photos very much so Dax. Thank you!!


Nice, Dax.

Pleas bitcan here is ripe in early September. Looks like a very large bitternut nut, but if you look closely, you can pick out the ‘stripes’ characteristic of pecan on the shell. Thin shell and cracks out pretty well… most years, has more astringency to the kernel than I care to deal with. It’s a weevil magnet.


'nother nice blog post from Dr. Reid, below, illustrating again, why I like ‘Major’ and its offspring for my little corner of the world…


I’d like to think that my talk with Bill a couple of days ago triggered this post. We definitely beat Major to death on a few points.

One thing he said that got me thinking was that Major offspring tend to inherit susceptibility to anthracnose. I noted that Adams #5 does not get scab, anthracnose, or powdery mildew. Wonder what a cross X Kanza or X Hark would look like?


I know. I’m extremely temped to not plant Mullahy and use Hark as my major source of food. Kanza is just as hardy here as all the northern pecans, really. I would be replacing Kanza for Mullahy as the pollinator for my Hark crops.

I have a dang Dumbell Lake though approaching 8’ I suppose. It’s way off in the corner all by itself whereas Hark and Kanza would be very near each other. I’ve had a feeling or a temptation you might say to saw Dumbell Lake off and graft another Kanza. Currently my plans call for (1) Mullahy/KANZA? and (3) Hark. I have seedlings in the ground that are going to get grafted real soon.

Darrel all the information I’ve been able to share is because of my friend Gary Fernald. All the pecans and hickories and nut trees I know well now are on his farm and his lake property, or places we’ve visited to see and talk ideas with each other based on what we see.

Here’s something that’s become very interesting as of this year. Gary has (2) Kanza and both are near 15’. Last year (2016) he got his first couple nuts. They were probably 1/3 less total mass as Kanza grown in Northern pecan areas, (we’re Far-Northern) but this year the few he got were larger. Both years completely filled. Noticeable enough that when he handed them to me I knew right away they were larger than last year.

Gary is thinking from his 40+ years of observation… that Kanza is going to continue to gain size. What we don’t know yet though is if it will be a reliable producer for us, but things are taking shape differently that what we ever thought to be possible.

You know if you do the actual math of ‘Hark’ it flowers the 14th or 15th of May and has very noticeable shuck split on the 14th or 15th of October. That’s 150 days. So if Kanza is 10 or 14 days later (just a guess right now) it should produce here. There’s a lot I don’t know right now. I do know it takes rain and wind to drop the nuts. Rain to swell that shuck wider and wind to bring them down in large amounts.

So even though 150 days, we’re pretty well waiting another 10-14 days typically for a good & heavy rain and then a gigantic Fall windstorm or many windstorms. Kanza could be another 2-3 weeks longer for the same environmental conditions to occur to bring them to the ground. Again I don’t know. However, I believe it’s possible for November to roll around and for it to become cold and instead of the shucks opening further, the nuts get stuck up there “stick tight” in the shucks. All per speculation right now on my part. Kind of just thinking here.




I see you’re talking about Adams #5 X

It got me going in another direction for here, this climate.

Cheers though,



The intent is to get us all thinking. I’ve had a cross with Adams #5 X ( Kanza or Hark ) in mind for quite a while now. I think a cross X Hark would have a lot of potential even up to your region. Adams #5 drops nuts between Sept 28 and Oct 11th. It has receptive female blooms near the 25th of April here. That puts it at 155 to 160 days maturity. Granted there are a lot of differences in climate, but I think there is a possibility of finding a seedling that would work up to zone 5b.

Re size of Kanza, this is a well known effect that larger older trees produce larger and better filled nuts with the caveat that trees that set too much of a crop tend to produce poorly filled nuts. Kanza tends to overbear as a mature tree so wait until you see what it does at 25 to 30 years before deciding how big the nuts will get.


Nice operation, and nice pictures. What are the other varieties of pecans that he has besides Mullahy and Kanza? Where exactly is this grove? NE Iowa? About how many trees do they have?

I imagine growing pecans are a lot more lucrative than they were even ten years ago, the overseas demand has really pushed up the price of them. Every year we go back home to OK to visit we get us a couple 5lb bag of half-shelled pecans, and they’ve run about $25 per bag! I love the taste of Pawnee, they seem to have the best flavor, IMO anyways.

That pic of that huge hican grafted onto a pecan is amazing. What is the age of that tree? Twenty or thirty years old?

What varieties do you think would do well in my location? I tried 8 bare root pecans last year and none of them have survived after two seasons. They came from Plantmegreen out of Florida, and didn’t have very good feeder roots, and just a single taproot. I’m pretty sure I planted them right, but they just never really did well, obviously.

I tried Oconee and Caddo as my type I pecans, and Lakota and Zinner as my type II trees. Are those good enough for this location (NE KY)?



NE KY is going to be a problem for the varieties named. Start with varieties suitable to your climate grafted onto hardy rootstocks.

Kanza, Hark, Major, Oswego, and Lakota are a good starting point. Nolin River Nursery has several of these which means they will be on Major as a rootstock. I would suggest Greenriver but from what I have seen, it looks like Oswego is a seedling of Greenriver and has better characteristics.

When planting pecans, dig a $100 hole for a $40 tree. This means dig it 3 feet deep and 3 feet wide and fill it back in with topsoil. Add a gallon or two of compost to help the tree establish roots.


Thanks. I think Hark and Mandan would be good type 1’s and Lakota and Kanza would work as the type 2’s.

Have you bought from Nolin, and if so, how have they done for you? If I got their smallest tree, at 2-3’, how thick are they, caliper wise?

I dug the holes for my pecans at least two feet deep, to accommodate the long tap roots, but they weren’t that wide, maybe 1-1.5’ wide. But, like I said, they just didn’t have very many small side feeder roots. They were very skinny, maybe 3/8" thick, and about 2ft tall.


I’ve bought from Nolin River for 20 years and have had excellent success. I’ve never lost a single one from them.

Patrick Conner has a writeup re Mandan that should be read before purchasing.

It might be worth your time to get a few rootstocks to graft varieties you like onto or to start some seedlings so you can graft them in the future.


If you’ve had trouble planting trees, it couldn’t hurt to put some nuts in the ground and grow some seedlings in place. I direct seeded some pecans about three years ago, and the biggest of them are over head high now. I don’t think I ever watered them, and I’ve hardly given them any other care. All I did to plant them was to invert a few shovel fulls of sod to bury the sod underneath itself (like moldboard plowing) and then plant about 6 nuts about 6-12" apart in each spot. Most of them germinated, so I’ll have extras to graft, and once I get a graft to take I can just cull the extras in each spot.

It seems like you have a lot more experience and knowledge than I do, especially when it comes to nut trees, but it seems like I’ve caused trouble for myself preparing too nice of a planting hole. I think putting really nice, loose soil in a planting hole for a pecan I planted was responsible for nearly killing it: voles chewed the root completely off about 6" below surface level, and I figured that loose soil had been a giant, blinking neon light inviting them to come live there. I’ve had very little trouble (at least so far as I’ve been able to notice) from voles otherwise.

I’ve also had concerns about differences in water holding capacity if I put anything other than the soil that came out of the planting hole back in the hole, especially given that most of my soils are quite clayey with very strong water holding capacities. I’ve come to believe that what might otherwise be better growing soil will lose its soil moisture during dry periods to the better water holding capacity of the surrounding clay and so be extra dry when it’s dry. And then my understanding is that the opposite is a problem too: during wet periods the clay doesn’t absorb the excess water, so it just sits in the planting hole drowning the tree.

Fusion, do you think my understanding is way off? Or maybe these problems are unique to clay soils, and only people with certain soil types need to be concerned about these issues? Or maybe I just misinterpreted what you were suggesting to start with.


Hi Bob,

Shepherd Farm was started back in the days where pecan cultivars for the north really were few and far in existence. That time period is when my friend Gary Fernald and company were spending weeks at a time working their way thru vegetation along the Mississippi River from up here near New Boston, IL and down to Missouri. Dan Shepherd who currently runs his fathers farm has since switched most of his fathers trees over to new and improved northern nut cultivars. But as a premise, Dan’s father was grafting anything Gary and company could get their hands on that were superior to other and existing pecans in the wild.

‘Mullahy’ is Gary’s best find. Dan’s father grafted a lot of it and it has remained at Shepherd Farm. The hicans Dan’s father had (and it was a large collection) were grafted 40+ years ago. So that hican you saw above is 40+ years old.

From memory of what I saw in his equipment room and in the orchard: ‘Mullahy’, ‘Shepherd’, ‘Kanza’, Oconee, ‘Pawnee’, ‘Colby’, ‘Elliot’, ‘Osage’; I think he has ‘Oconee’ but I’m not positive. And I know I’m not remembering them all.

Your best bet are Kanza & Hark, Bob. Surely Pawnee is excellent and could be added. I bought 11 pounds of Pawnee while I was at Shepherd Farm. I know what you’re saying. It’s a delicious nut.

I’m going to defer to @Fusion_power for selections other than Kanza or Hark. I don’t know much if anything about Pawnee’s pest problems but if memory serves me, it’s a scab magnet.

As mentioned you need a hardier rootstock for your area. The reason could be very likely that the southern rootstocks that came with plantmegreen were the downfall. Nolin River has everything you need. If you’re going to get a Hark, now’s the time to call John at Nolin. He has Kanza too.

@Fusion_power could be dealing with southern red clay that’s like gooey play dough but even worse. Still, if organice are added the entire hole should never be filled with another media. If he has to break up his soil he should add compost or other organics to get his native soil to the point of being able to drain. And, a large bar should be hammered in the middle of the hole a few feet down or as far as a person is able to go, and then filled with gravel for drainage.

Best regards,



CF, I have not seen the problems with soils you describe, but as a generalization, topsoil is usually not dramatically different in water holding capacity except if it is on top of heavy clay. You are correct that a bowl dug into heavy clay can act as a water holding reservoir in wet weather conditions. Turns out that pecan is very tolerant of wet soils up to a point. Also, that water comes in handy in dry weather. One thing I should have stated above is that I always fill the hole back up so that it is 2 to 4 inches above the surrounding soil. The extra fill height will let the soil settle to a flat surface. No matter what you do, the soil has been disturbed and will settle down. I actually use a mix of topsoil and the subsoil that came from the hole. This is because I am too lazy to bring in wheelbarrow loads of topsoil. It does not seem to affect tree growth so long as other requirements are met.

Re voles eating the roots, the taproot of a pecan is a huge starchy potato like reservoir. I’ve had them eaten off right up to the root crown. The only way I know to stop it is to use a wire mesh barrier to exclude varmints.


I assumed as much.

What is done is to add whatever percentage it takes to make the soil drain. Sometimes 25% other organics, sometimes 50% (which is what you’re hoping not to surpass but only if possible) and sometimes it may require 75% organics.



First grafted pecans I planted…from NRNTN… I dug holes 3 ft deep and 3 ft across… mixed in peat and rotted sheep manure…I have a GOOD clay soil. I’m absolutely certain that I created a mucky ‘bathtub’ that spelled doom for most of those trees.
Since then, I’ve NEVER done anything but return the dirt that came out of the hole back into the hole and water in well, then mulch well. They’ve gotta grow in whatever is there… they might as well get on with it.
Oh, and I dig about a $1.10 hole for a $1 tree. just deep enough to accomodate whatever taproot I manage to preserve when I dig 'em out, and just a smidge wider than whatever lateral roots may be present.


This might have been answered somewhere else, but just a quick question. If I get Nolin River’s shortest pecan (2 ft) it costs $45. Is this a potted tree, or bare root?


Yes, I’ve read U of Georgia’s write-ups on their pecan trials, very informative. Their info is how I decided on the varieties I did. The site run by Bill Reid is also very useful.

So, perhaps another good type 1 to go with Hark would be Oswego as you said, or perhaps a Yates 68 or 127 (looking at NR’s inventory).

For type 2, Kanza would be first choice and then Lakota or Posey.


I think Hark, Oswego, Kanza, and Lakota would be a very good start for pecans in your climate. Call John and talk to him about the trees. He will guide you a lot better than I can about the trees he ships.


Ditto to what Darrel said. You’ll have to call John. I’ve only purchased a large tree so don’t know how his 2-3 footers are shipped.