Pecans, Walnuts, Hazelnuts - Middle Tennessee (recommendations)

Good Evening all…

I am in Zone 7a, Middle Tennessee (southern middle) and I grow all kinds of stuff.

Except Nut Trees (so far) - but I would like to get some started soon.

My Property is ridge top (not creek or river bottom), but my soil is pretty good for ridge top land.
I have 30 acres total, mostly in timber, with about 3 acres cleared, growing grass mostly that I bushhog a couple times a year.

I would like to start possibly Pecan, Walnut, or Hazelnut - to add to my large collection of other stuff. I have lots of fruit trees, berry bushes… a flat garden, raised beds, a food forest, I grow ginseng, love growing all kinds of stuff.

I have plenty of wild hickory trees on my place and have a few growing in my clearing where I would like to plant those mentioned above.

Wondering if any of you folks are actually successfully growing Pecans, Walnuts, or Hazelnuts in Middle TN area and having success at it. There are lots of varieties out there, but one thing I know for sure, planting the right variety for your location is key to success. What works well in one State, may fail miserably in another.

I you have any recommendations for Middle TN varieties of those, I would sure appreciate it.

Thanks a lot !



My hazelnuts aren’t far enough along for me to give any specific recommendations.

With your kind of space and interest in growing a variety of things, you might also consider chestnuts. Quite tasty, I’ll be putting in a few this spring.

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I’m just getting started in Chattanooga. I went mostly kanza and hark. Ordered from starkbrothers and rock bridge trees. Will have to wait a few years for results



I have considered chestnuts… BUT… I figured out a few years ago that Carbs cause me lots of health issues. I have to eat a low carb diet (Keto) to stay healthy… and chestnuts are quite high in Carbs… so unfortunately for me, they are out.

Pecans, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, are much lower in carbs, and have good amounts of fat and protein (the things I do well with).

I do like chestnuts and wish they were a good option for me, but not so health wise.

I do have a lot of stuff growing around here, that are high carb (apples, peaches, plums, figs, jujube, apricots, etc…) but planted all of that before I figured out what was about to kill me. Now days I am sticking to only starting new things that low carb.

All of that other yummy stuff… I will just have to eat a small amount of - every once in a while - to keep my health in check.

Thanks for your comments.


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Thanks for your suggestions.

Kanza is one of the varieties that I have circled in my Nursery catalogs… and also Pawnee… I have not heard of Hark, but will look into that one.

I prefer varieties that are MORE disease resistant (organic grower myself) and Kanza is listed as being “Very scab resistant” in my catalogs… I like that.

Pawnee sounds very good (again catalog description)… and it does say, Scab and aphid resistant.
It does not say VERY resistant… like it does on Kanza. I have learned over the years you have to pay real close attention to the nursery catalog descriptions… even very subtle differences like that can have meaning.

So before I came here for help, I had somewhat decided to give Kanza a try, but was not so sure about Pawnee. I found Pawnee on youtube, in Texas, looking really good. But that is TX, and I am in TN.

I will check out the Hark for sure.

I will definitely lean towards the varieties that are more disease resistant.


Lived in Giles Co. for about 5 years…but before I got into fruit & nut trees.
Pecan & black walnut can work on upland sites if soil is good, but still may not ‘like’ it as well as a creekbottom site…adequate water is required for nut maturation, so irrigation/watering may be consideration.
Hark, Kanza, Major, Greenriver, Oswego would be good pecan choices to try; Lakota and other scab resistant northern/midwestern varieties, if you have room.
Check with David at Rock Bridge Trees for trees and his recommendations.
BWs…Thomas, Neel#1, Thomas Myers, Pounds#2 would top my list.
Shagbark hickories…yes!!
Grainger, Porter, Yoder#1…on an upland site, they may be better on hickory rpptstock.



Appreciate your suggestions too.

I have a nice large shaqbark hickory in my field now and a couple of the others (smaller nuts, think they are called pignuts ?) they do produce a regular crop and the squirrels love them. When squirrel hunting, under a hickory tree is the place to be.

I actually just learned about a year ago the difference in the two, shaqbark and pignut, and realized the one closest to my house in the field is a shaqbark… and what luck this spring, we got a bad frost on April 15, and I had no Shaqbark hickory nuts this year. Hopefully this next year I may get to harvest some of those and try them out.


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“Some species, such as sand and pignut hickories, are found often on drier hilltops and side slopes, while others, such as water and shellbark hickories, occur most often in moist drainages and near swamps.”

I was just looking at that document the other day and remembered a mention of pignut. Yikes:

“Pignut hickory begins to bear seed in quantity in 30 years, with optimum production between 75 and 200 years.”

Don’t know if you’re a fan of black walnut or not, sounds like they may not do too well there. Butternut walnut is likely a bit more tolerant though and probably produces sooner. Might be something to look into.

Anyway, good luck in your quest.

Take Pawnee off of your interest list. It is totally susceptible to pecan scab to the point it is impossible to grow a crop without heavy spraying with fungicides. The trees that will work have been suggested above. You might add Amling, Adams #5, and Major for a few more that can make a crop without extensive spraying.

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Another good pecan read I enjoy

Black walnuts will probably do OK on a hilltop in Southern Middle TN, so long as it’s not one of those rock & redcedar outcrops that the locals sometimes call ‘permanent pasture’.
Very few, if any, pure butternuts still alive in TNHunter’s neck of the woods. Introduced canker/blight has taken most of them out. A friend who’s a consulting forester says he’s never seen one ‘in the wild’, in his 40+ year career.
We have friends at Leiper’s Fork who had a few on hilltop sites in their forested ground, 30 years ago, but they were struggling then…not sure they’re still alive. Butternut nutmeats are even more difficult to extract, and lower kernel percentage, than the typical wild-type black walnut, in my limited experience.
I have two bearing-age butternut seedling trees here… can’t swear that they are not hybrids with heartnut or Japanese walnut, but they came from ‘wild’ trees in north Georgia(USA). Nuts are smaller, and more rounded than most butternut (or the very similar Japanese walnut) nuts I’ve seen in person & photos.

Agree with f_p… Pawnee and any other scab-susceptible pecan varieties need to be discarded from any home/low-input grower’s list. Pawnee, Peruque, and a couple others in my collection almost never produce a harvestable crop due to total annihilation of nuts by pecan scab infection. All you want are varieties that have shown good to excellent resistance to pecan scab infection.


Hello fellow Middle Tennessean. I grow Kanza, Lakota, and Amling pecans. They do great here and are very disease resistant. No sprays needed.

Black walnuts grow like weeds throughout TN, and I have several on my property. I’ve never tried planting any named varieties because we have more than enough wild ones that drop several hundred nuts every year.

I have lots of hazelnuts, also. They were all grown from various seed sources that were exchanged with members here. No issues with them in the few years that I’ve been growing them. Look for disease resistant types.

If you do go with chestnuts, look for known blight resistant varieties - stick with pure or mostly pure Chinese varieties. I’d stick with seedlings vs grafted. I have several chestnut trees, but none have produced yet. No blight so far.


I love that this has become a sort of Tennessean thread hahaha
Just wanted to say howdy to my fellow middle Tennesseans. I’m just about right in the middle of the middle.
Good luck with your trees @TNHunter!! I know nothing about nuts. :rofl:

I may send u a PM later.


Right, it’s unlikely he has any native butternuts already growing there, but he could purchase/plant some. How to prevent the canker/blight from killing them though, now that’s the question…

I know of one “in the wild” Butternut tree in my neck of the woods. An uncle years ago gathered nuts from it and has a few mature ones growing at his home now. He gave me a seedling from one of those last spring. I had already purchased two trees a few years prior but never turn down a free seedling of an uncommon tree :slight_smile:

The nuts from the trees at my uncle’s are not “easy” to crack but still take far less effort than the typical black walnut. If you found them to be more difficult then yeah I’d wonder if that wasn’t actually a hybrid. The tree I know of, there’s a good chance it is as well. I say that because as a child my father remembers he and friends cracking butternut shells with their teeth. The uncle who had these trees growing is in his late 70’s and didn’t remember doing that, but was pretty confident ones he ate as a child were significantly easier to crack. Which makes me think those trees of their youth were true butternut and the ones he has growing now are crossed with some other walnut/hickory/heartnut. I’ll be curious to see how the ones I purchased versus the seedling he gave me differ in years to come.

Wanted to follow up on my previous post as I just saw that chestnuts are off of your list. I’m also on a low carb / low sugar diet for health reasons, so I can understand that. However, if you’re as an avid hunter as I am, then you may still want to consider them as wildlife plantings. They attract just about everything.

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Wdingus, the future is already here for ‘butternut’ - DNA analysis has revealed that quite a few of the ‘butternut’ clones that have been propagated, in some cases for almost a century, are actually hybrids with Japanese walnut, J.ailantifolia, or its budsport, the heartnut (J.ailantifolia var. cordiformis).

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Thank you all so much… some great advice and recommendations here. Just what I was looking for.

Especially this statement — Hello fellow Middle Tennessean. I grow Kanza, Lakota, and Amling pecans. They do great here and are very disease resistant. No sprays needed.

Rob on the chestnuts… and wildlife… I have lots of deer, wild turkey and squirrel, rabbits, etc… on my property and about 27 acres of mature Tennessee hardwood forest… mostly White, Red, Chestnut (we call em Mountain Oaks) and to a lesser extent… Black oaks, Post oaks, Hickory, Poplar, Maple. In good acorn years, they get plenty of those. Down in one of my hollows, near a creek and bluff there are some wild chestnuts growing… Noticed them when digging ginseng one year. Huge (Spine coverd) husks, and the nuts themselves were quite large. At least quarter sized or larger. They liked where they were growing - looked very healthy and were producing lots of nuts. Unfortunately that is a long walk from my house, so I just dont go and collect them. I am sure the Deer, Turkeys and Squirrel do though.

On the difference in Chestnuts and Hazelnuts… (keto carb count wise).

1/4 cup of Chestnuts has 18.93 g carbs, 1.8 g fiber, Net Carbs 17.13
1/4 cup of Hazelnuts has 5.64 g carbs, 3.3 g fiber, Net Carbs 2.34

I limit my carbs to 25-30 net g per day, and maintain ketosis well with that. I also do intermittent fasting (6 hour feeding window, 18 hour fasting). Might seem extreme to some, but I was extremely ill at one point, had part of my colon removed twice… and now I have no problems at all. Had a colonoscopy (regular 5 year thing) around 6 months into Keto Diet… and actually on day 25 of a Zero Carb diet (Carnivore mostly, meat, eggs, butter, ghee, salt, water)… which I maintained for 31 days… and my GI DR could not believe the change in my colon. No inflammation, no problems at all. He said what ever you are doing, keep doing it. So I am sticking with low carb, keto and only wish I had figured this out 40 years ago.

Anyway… probably a little TMI there… but that is part of my journey… and the reason I limit carbs.

Wdingus… thanks for the link to that TN AG pg1810, I read that and printed it off.
Now I am even more interested in finding out exactly what kind of Hickory Tree that it is that I have out in my field. I have 4 hickory trees out there… and 3 - I am pretty sure they are pignuts… The info in that pg1810 helped confirm that some. They are pretty trees, turn a nice yellow in the fall, are producing nuts now, most years anyway, and squirrels to eat them.

But I do have this 1 hickory that is just way different than the other 3 (bark wise).

The info below if from that pb1810 document…

Tree with long plates of shaggy (scaly), peeling bark… Possible Hickories – Shagbark, Shellbark, Southern shagbark, Water

Leaflets usually 5 per leaf - Pignut, Shagbark, Southern shagbark

I am pretty sure that all 4 of those hickory trees in my field have the same type leaflets (5 per leaf).
3 I think are pignut, 1 is definitely different based on bark.

Here is more description they provided on 3 that I think it might be…

Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata [Mill.] K. Koch) Shagbark hickory is common throughout Tennessee and is tolerant of both dry and moderately moist soils, growing along creeks, in mountain coves, and on hilltops and slopes. The nut is sweet and is sometimes produced and sold commercially. Pg. 16. Shellbark Hickory (Carya laciniosa [Michx. f.] G. Don)

Shellbark hickory has a sporadic presence in Tennessee with the greatest concentrations in the Mississippi and Tennessee River bottoms and in the western Highland Rim in Middle Tennessee. Primarily, it is a bottomland species, often found on deep, moist, but well-drained soils. The very large nut of this species also is sweet. Pg. 17. Southern

Southern Shagbark Hickory (Carya carolinaeseptentrionalis [Ashe] Engl. & Graebn.) Southern shagbark hickory is scattered throughout Tennessee but is most common in the Central and Southcentral regions. It grows on upland ridges and side slopes, particularly on limestone-derived soils. Like the larger fruit of the shagbark and shellbark, the nut of southern shagbark is sweet. Pg. 18.

Good news is the nut is described as sweet on all 3 of those.


SO I got out this morning and took a pic of the 1 that I am wondering exactly which variety it is.

As you can see the bark is definitely not like the pignut bark, it is sort of hanging off in sheets. Where the pignut bark is somewhat ridged, but tight to the tree.

I looked at the bark in that publication on all of those and I think I might have a Southern Shaqbark Hickory here… There are more of those down in my woods but this one is about 80 yards from my front porch.

PS… that Tree is 16" diameter (1 foot up from ground), and best I can estimate between 50-60 ft tall.
It has been producing nuts on a regular basis for many years now. So have the pignuts in the field.

I am thinking that if they are producing nuts in that location, that is a good sign.

I would love to have a few pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts to go with the (possible) Southern Shaqbark Hickory.

Let me know if you have other opinion on the type of hickory that is. In the dead of winter, not much else to look at besides the bark for identifying it.

On Walnuts… I have not found any wild black walnuts on my place. There are some on land not too far from my property (in a large creek bottom). I wonder if I would have any luck with Black Walnuts.

Hickory definately like growing on my place, but walnuts may be a different story.

English/Persian Walnuts ??? one one catalog I have they have CHANDLER listed, and those sound great. I looked them up on youtube and a lot of folks having success in growing them, very productive, early producers, but not sure if they would do well on my place.

Any recommendations on Hazelnut varieties for my place, Disease resistance a must, ridge top land, decent soil, grows hickory and oaks well, as well as lots of fruit trees and berry bushes and other garden stuff.

Thanks much


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Here is a pic of the top of that possible Shagbark, or Southern Shagbark Hickory…
I don’t think it would be the Shellbark… but might be one of the other two.



That’s definitely shagbark. Which form/species, I can’t say.
Most of the named shagbark clones are C.ovata, but Grainger, which originated in TN, is C.carolina-septrionalis.
Shellbark not generally that ‘shaggy’, and unlikely to naturally be growing on a hilltop, as they tend to be creek/riverbottom trees.

All my Carpathian/Persian walnuts froze out in 2007; I’ve made no attempt to replace them. They need good ‘air drainage’, similar to peaches…if peaches are problematic on your site, with regard to spring freezes, expect similar issues with J.regia. All I’ve ever had the chance to sample had undesirable astringency, and not much flavor…but many folks find black walnut too strong.

The common species of hickory in this part of the world are:
Carya Ovata - Shagbark, usually can tell by combination of nut shape and flavor, tree bark, and leaf form
Carya Laciniosa - Shellbark usually has larger nuts, don’t rely on leaf count to differentiate!
Carya Tomentosa - Mockernut hickory, grows really well on upland ridges
Carya Glabra - Pignut, usually differentiated by having a “pear” shaped nut husk
Carya Cordiformis - Bitternut hickory, eat one and you will understand
Carya Aquatica - more common further south, but still quite a few to be found in western Tennessee
Carya Illinoinensis - Pecan, native to western Tennessee, widely planted across the southeast
Carya Myristiciformis - Rare, not normally found in Tennessee, but abundant near Selma, AL

By and large, pecan is the most prolific of the hickory species and the best for eating. Flavor of others can be superb, bland, or bitter depending on species and individual tree genetics. I’ve eaten a Mockernut that was fantastically good flavored and picked up another a few hundred feet away that was bland.

I have 4 or 5 hicans that I’m considering planting for next year. They are water hickory X pecan crosses.

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