Pecan Scion & Rootstock Selection
Performance of pecan cultivars varies among regions and orchard management practices. Because pecan trees require between 5 to 10 years to bear fruit, and last for generations, selecting the proper pecan cultivar is essential to future production.
In California the four most common cultivars are Wichita, Cheyenne, Pawnee, Western Schley, and Shoshone. Descriptions of each cultivar were obtained from Linwood Nursery and expert reviewers.
Witchita is a cross between Halbert and Mahan; it is precocious, heavy producer of medium sized nuts. Trees bear fruit in 5 to 7 years and can be used to pollinate the Pawnee variety. Due to its superior productivity, Wichita is still the most popular cultivar and represents over 75% of all commercial pecan plantings in California.
Cheyenne is a cross between Clark and Odom. It is a smaller tree with medium sized nuts which begins bearing in 4 to 7 years. Although once popular, it is not common now due to problems with severe alternate bearing, susceptibility to aphids and zinc deficiency, and poor nut quality.
Pawnee is a cross between Mohawk and Starking Hardy-Giant. It is a precocious variety with large sized nuts and a large number of nuts per cluster. Pawnee harvests early and is commonly grown in Northern California. It typically produces a lighter crop than Wichita.
Western Schley is the most widely planted cultivar in the western United States. It was selected as a seedling from a population of San Saba seedlings. Western Schley is the most popular pollinator for Wichita in California.
Shoshone, a cross between Odom and Evers, is a popular pollinator for Pawnee, harvests early, and is commonly grown in Northern California. It exhibits significant alternate bearing thus is not popular as a main producing cultivar.
For information about additional commercial pecan cultivars please refer to Linwood nursery (http://www.linwoodnursery.com/variety.aspx) or Burchell Nursery (http://www.burchellnursery.com/for-commercial-growers.php).
For Pecan varieties grown in the backyard orchard in California please refer to “Growing Temperate Tree Fruit and Nut Crops in the Home Garden and Landscape”. http://homeorchard.ucdavis.edu/plant_Pecan.pdf