Growing Pecans in Kansas
Pecan is a large, beautiful tree that produces bountiful crops of delicious nuts. The largest member of the hickory family, pecan trees often grow to a height of over 70 feet and a spread greater than 80 feet. Pecans have large, pinnately compound leaves with each leaf bearing 7–13 leaflets. Nuts are borne on branch terminals in clusters of 2–5. A fleshy green husk surrounds the nut during the growing season but splits open in October to reveal the light brown nut that is streaked with black mottles. As husks dry and wither, nuts fall freely from the tree. Pecan nuts vary in size, shape, and shell thickness. Seedling pecan trees often produce small, thick-shelled nuts, while large, thin-shelled nuts are produced by trees grafted to improved cultivars.
Pecans truly are multipurpose trees. In the home landscape, these long-lived, sturdy trees provide ample shade and bright yellow fall color. Wildlife conservationists appreciate the food and cover pecan trees produce for squirrels, turkeys, and deer. In southeastern Kansas, wild pecan trees have been brought under cultivation to provide farmers with an additional source of income. Pecans are also one of Kansas’ most reliable orchard trees.
A successful pecan planting requires good soils, adequate water, and prudent cultivar selection. Failure to provide the proper conditions for pecan tree growth often leads to poor growth and sparse nut production.