Each year as visitors come into our Natchitoches Pecans pecan store at Little Eva Plantation the conversation comes up about what pecan varieties are best to plant for the homeowner in Louisiana. Not all pecan varieties are suited for the homeowner. There are important factors to consider before choosing a variety. The most important factor to consider is scab disease resistance. Varieties highly susceptible to scab should be avoided. Schley, Wichita and Desirable are highly susceptible to scab and should not be planted because of their need to be sprayed. The control of scab is one of the most expensive costs of pecan production.
Commercial managed orchards have access to high-pressure spray equipment necessary for spraying the pecan trees whereas the ordinary homeowner cannot afford this type of equipment. Another factor to consider when choosing a variety for home plantings is cross-pollination. Cross-pollination improves the quantity and quality of nuts produced. Unless there are other pecan plantings within a 1/4-mile radius, varieties of pecan trees with opposite blooming characteristics should be planted near each other to improve cross-pollination. The following are varieties that we recommend:
CANDY - these are small nuts (~66 nuts/lb.) with thick shells and high-quality kernels that have a high oil content with good color. Meat yield can be 45%. The trees are vigorous and can begin to bear in four to five years, but may tend to alternate bear as the tree ages.
ELLIOTT - these are small teardrop shaped nuts (~67 nuts/lb.) with a thick shell and bright high quality kernels. Meat yield can be 53%. The nuts have excellent cracking characteristics. This is a very scab-resistant variety and also a favorite root stock cultivar. Trees bear in six to eight years.
MELROSE - these are medium-large oblong nuts (~53 nuts/lb.) with a medium shell and bright kernels. Meat yield can be 55%. Nuts crack well and the trees bear in six to eight years. This variety has moderate scab resistance.
SUMNER - these are medium-large nuts (~48 nuts/lb.) with a medium shell and good quality kernels. Meat yield can be 53%. Trees can bear at a relatively early age - five to six years. This variety has excellent scab resistance.
On average, pecan production adds about $12 million to Louisiana's economy each year and as everyone knows no holiday is complete without a pecan pie!