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6 Pecan Tree Varieties to Grow in New Mexico

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New Mexico is famous for its pecan trees that thrive in the sun-drenched south, often leading the country in the commercial production of these delicious nuts.

For the home grower, their long graceful leaves also make for gorgeous shade trees.

The pecan varieties below are all adapted to thrive in the hot, dry planting zones in New Mexico, where they produce abundant crops when irrigated.

Some cultivars will also produce well in the cooler areas down to USDA Zone 6.

Before you choose your pecan tree, you need to understand and choose the correct pollinating partner to achieve optimal production. This pecan pollinating chart will help you choose the right pair.

Let’s look at pecan tree varieties for New Mexico that will thrive there.

6 Excellent Pecan Trees That Grow Well in New Mexico

Type I Protandrous Pecan Trees

1. Western Pecan – Carya illinoinensis ‘Western’

Western Schley Pecan - Grid 2 Square
Images via Star Nursery – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

The Western Pecan is sometimes called Western Schley, which should not be confused with the ‘Schley’ cultivar not recommended for growing in New Mexico.

Western is the most widely planted pecan in NM and is a critical component of the entire commercial NM pecan industry, and for good reason.

They are vigorous trees that perform well in the drier climates of southern NM, reliably producing heavy annual crops once they mature, around the sixth or seventh year after planting.

The nuts of the Western Pecan are medium-sized, high quality, and mature mid to somewhat late in the season. Being later maturing, they are not suitable for northern New Mexico.

Western Pecan trees are also much less fussy about soil types and nutrition and is even less prone to the zinc deficiency that can plague some pecan cultivars in New Mexico’s more challenging soils.

Other Common Names: Western Schley

USDA Growing Zones: 7 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 30 – 40 ft tall, 25 – 30 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen is shed in early May; stigmas become receptive not long after with significant overlap. Pecans ripen in late October to early November

Pollination Partners: Ideal (Bradley), Wichita

2. Waco Pecan – Carya illinoinensis ‘Waco’

Waco Pecan
Image by USDA

Waco Pecan is a promising new cultivar released in 2005 by the USDA with a large, dense canopy of very large leaves, making it an excellent choice for the homeowner as a landscape and shade tree.

They produce more rounded, high-quality, large-sized nuts with thicker shells than Western or Wichita.

Early results in commercial orchards (less than 20 years) in the southwest corner of New Mexico have consistently shown Waco Pecans to produce high yields each year. They clearly seem well-adapted to the high heat and semi-arid climate there.

Since Waco Pecans ripen mid-season rather than late, it is possible that this tree could be successfully grown in the northern part of the state as well down to USDA Zone 6, although data on this currently could not be found.

Other Common Names: N/A

USDA Growing Zones: 6 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 40 – 60 ft tall, 20 – 30 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen is shed in early to mid-April; stigma is receptive mid to late April with no overlap; pecans ripen mid-season (October)

Pollination Partners: Wichita, Kanza

3. Pawnee Pecan – Carya illinoinensis ‘Pawnee’

Pawnee Pecan - Grid 2 Square
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Pawnee Pecans are popular for their decent yields of large, high-quality nuts with thin shells that are easy to crack.

They are an early ripening pecan, making them a fantastic choice for those in northern NM, where they’re unlikely to suffer from early freezes. Southern growers appreciate them for their early harvests of quality nuts.

Pawnee Pecans are popular with home growers for their compact size, only growing to 30 ft tall, making them suitable for more average-sized yards where they make lovely shade trees.

They are healthy trees with good resistance to all but pecan scab, which, thanks to the semi-arid climate, is not a problem in NM.

Pawnee Pecans are best grown in full sun in a slightly acidic loam.

They’re more prone to zinc deficiency in alkaline soils than other varieties recommended here.

You can also learn how to identify the Pawnee Pecan.

Other Common Names: N/A

USDA Growing Zones: 6 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 20 – 30 ft tall, 15 – 25 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen is shed mid to late April; stigmas are receptive a few days later with significant overlap; pecans are ready to harvest early in September.

Pollination Partners: Kanza, Stuart, Elliot.

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

Type II Protogynous Pecan Trees

4. Wichita Pecan – Carya illinoinensis ‘Wichita’

Wichita Pecan - Grid 2 Square
Images via Daley’s Fruit – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Wichita Pecans are widely planted in New Mexico, Arizona, and northern Mexico to be a pollinizer for the very popular Western variety, where they perform well in arid climates with high heat.

They produce nuts early, only five or six years after planting, and they are prolific producers of large nuts. Some years they may overbear, in which case the nuts are reduced in size and quality. Overbearing can be corrected by crop thinning if necessary.

For the home grower, it is another compact tree that fits well in more average-sized yards and makes a beautiful shade tree.

Its V-shaped limbs may require training and pruning to prevent damage in high winds and maintain its shape.

Other potential problems with this variety include fruit split and pecan scab. However, these are not a problem for NM growers with their low humidity.

Other Common Names: Northern Pecan

USDA Growing Zones: 6 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 25 – 30 ft tall, 15 – 20 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen is shed in early May, stigma is receptive in late April; pecans are harvested mid to late October

Pollination Partners: Western (Western Schley), Pawnee

5. Ideal Pecan – Carya illinoinensis ‘Ideal’

Ideal Bradley Pecan - Grid 2 Square
Images by Stahmanns Pecans via Pinterest and New Mexico State University – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Ideal or Bradley Pecans are fast-growing trees but are slower to produce crops than other trees, taking seven to nine years after planting to produce a crop.

Their nuts are smaller than other pecans but are of exceptional quality with high oil content and superior flavor. Even when crops are particularly heavy, the nut quality remains high.

Young trees may be susceptible to injury from severe freezes, making them less ideal for cooler northern climates unless given some protection until they reach maturity. However, the later bud development of Ideal Pecans in the spring makes them less susceptible to spring freezes.

Ideal Pecan trees have fallen out of favor in other growing regions in recent years due to high susceptibility to pecan scab. However, growers in NM do not have to worry about fungal diseases like scab, thanks to the semi-arid climate.

Other Common Names: Bradley Pecan

USDA Growing Zones: 6 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 30 – 50 ft tall, 20 – 30 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen is shed early to mid-May; stigma is receptive early May; pecans are ready to harvest early to mid-season

Pollination Partners: Western (Western Schley)

6. Kanza Pecan – Carya illinoinensis ‘Kanza’

Kanza Pecan - Grid 2 Square
Images via Spencer Creek Nursery – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Kanza is very cold-hardy for a pecan, with nuts that ripen in late September or early October. These factors make it a great choice for those in the cooler climates of New Mexico, with their shorter growing seasons.

It produces small nuts with thick shells, but they tend to fill their shells very well, even when overbearing or subjected to moderate environmental stress.

Kanza nuts are of high quality and shell very easily despite their somewhat thicker shells.

This variety of pecan is best grown in somewhat moist, slightly acidic to neutral soils, making it less suitable for the southern lowlands of NM with its dry and often strongly alkaline soils.

Kanza Pecan is a healthy tree resistant to many of the pests and diseases of pecans.

You can also learn to identify the Kanza Pecan.

Other Common Names: N/A

USDA Growing Zones: 6 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 50 – 70 ft tall, 25 – 30 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Pollen is shed in late April to early May; stigmas are receptive mid to late April; pecans are ready to harvest late September to early October

Pollination Partners: Pawnee, Desirable, Caddo

Perfect Pecan Trees to Grow in New Mexico

Pecan trees are beautiful shade trees with delicious edible nuts that grow well in much of New Mexico.

If you choose the right pecan variety for your region in NM, you will be rewarded with bountiful harvests of nuts each and every year.

Growers in NM are lucky to avoid most pecan diseases prevalent in humid climates, making them an excellent choice for the home gardener.

Be sure you read up on growing pecan trees to ensure successful establishment and nut production. If you want to learn more about why you must pair your trees carefully to ensure nut production, you can read up on pecans’ protandrous and protogynous nature.

I hope you have enjoyed learning more about choosing the perfect pecan tree for your New Mexico garden orchard. Enjoy your bountiful harvest!