Growing Pecans Trees in South
 Central Pennsylvania

Bill Devlin
Adams County Master Gardener

The Pecan Tree is usually thought of as a tree of the south; however, over the years varieties have been developed or discovered that are hardy further north. There are many varieties of pecans, with a number being suitable for lower elevations in Adams County's USDA Climate Zone 6. USDA Climate Zones are defined by the average minimum temperatures with Zone 6 in the band of minus 10 to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

My experience with pecans began when I was seven years old in southeastern Kansas. My parents purchased a 'bottom' farm in Cherokee County, at the southeast tip of Kansas with an elevation of 850 feet above sea level. Native pecans grew wild anywhere in these deep alluvial soils that were reached and seeded by floodwaters of local creeks and rivers. Deep soils are needed for these large taproot trees. Our favorite trees were growing in an otherwise unbroken field of native blue stem prairie, one of the original native grasses of the plains. Without competition, the trees grew into magnificent shapes, conducive for young boys to climb far up into to shake the delicious nuts loose for harvesting before the crows and squirrels took them all.

I have continued my love for this species for 60 years, developing a lot of knowledge and experience through reading, attending agricultural experiment stations field days, hands-on grafting, and most recently, use of the Internet. I have about 300 trees on my river bottom farm in Labette County, Kansas. A nut planted pecan tree will mature in about 15 years. A three-year-old tree grafted with mature scion will bear in two more years. Grafted trees are recommended for all but the very young. Grafting your own trees is a topic for another article.

Since I am only writing an article and not a book, I will now point the reader to a variety of user-friendly web sites where a massive amount of information is available. I will summarize with my personal experience with pecan trees, old and new, in Adams County. If you don't have a personal computer, our Adams County Library has both the computers and a most helpful staff. Don't be bashful about asking for help. Texas A&M University site. Also the USDA Agricultural Research Service Laboratory maintains the Cultivar Register where information and pictures can be found for literally hundreds of cultivars. For example, the Pawnee trees recently planted in Carroll Valley's Lake Kaye Park are shown to be a hybrid of 'Mohawk' cross-pollinated with 'Starking Hardy Giant.' Pawnee was developed in 1963 and released in 1984 for planting throughout the United States. Oklahoma State University has a wealth of information on a variety of pecan growing topics. The F-6200 - 6209 series of Extension Publications is particularly helpful. Remember to favor varieties cited as thriving in Northern Oklahoma, as the climatic region of Southern Oklahoma is Zone 7, out of our reach. A commercial nursery site in Kentucky. Many varieties of nuts are available. A search under 'Pecans' will show northern and far northern varieties available and their individual characteristics. Favor early maturing nuts for our area. This site is a nursery in Ontario, Canada. Obviously, the pecan has made it quite a ways from the old south. This site is the Northern Nut Growers Association. It has links to several nurseries that will provide pecan trees as well as another wealth of information. is the address of the off site links. The nursery where we recently purchased the 3 Pawnee variety pecan trees for planting in Carroll Valley. The site has an excellent Climate Zone Map. An excellent description of USDA Climate Zones, and the several factors that should be considered. Oriented to Roses, but excellent background information on climate zones.

A number of northern variety pecans can be grown in Adams County, particularly at the lower elevations. Space is needed to get the maximum aesthetic benefits of these trees. Nut production will depend on pollination; thus two varieties should be planted. Mature pecan trees can be found at the north side of Willow Pond Farms on Tract Road south of Fairfield. Recent plantings of grafted trees can be found in the Carroll Valley Lake Kay Park on Trout Run between Northern Pike and Ski run.

Read other articles about trees

Read other articles By Bill Devlin