Did you know there are about 500 different types of pecans? These delicious, hearty nuts are classified by several factors, including “thickness of the shell, size of the nut, flowering timing, and the age of the first bearing”. Larger, meatier nuts tend to do well in the market because they’re great for snacking and baking. Happy DIY Home has an excellent article breaking down 20 of the most popular types of pecans and what makes each one unique.
The size of the nut is an important factor for classification. The Curtis and Osage tend to produce smaller pecans, while Amling and Candy pecans are medium sized. Desirable, Mahan, Mandan, Pawnee, and Stuart are much larger. Some of the highest quality pecans are Desirable, Osage, and Summer.
Amling pecans are a very popular scab-resistant pecan and the trees can reach 100-150 feet. The nuts can be harvested between September and October. Like Amling, Caddo pecans produce about 60 nuts in a pound and are great for home gardens. They’re originally from Georgia and are easy to peel.
Candy pecans are known for their sweet flavor, so they’re popular in desserts. Along with Creek pecans, Candy pecan trees produce nuts quickly. Creek pecan trees are also scab resistant and easy to peel. They can get up to 50-100 feet tall. Cape Fear pecan trees are from North Carolina and are also disease resistant. Their shells tend to have a medium thickness.
Other disease resistant trees include Curtis, Elliot, Kanza, Moreland, and Osage. Elliot pecan trees are from Florida and the nuts have a sweet flavor. They can reach 70-100 feet tall when they’re fully mature, and produce nuts between November and February. Osage pecans are cold tolerant, so they do well in northern states.
Hican pecans are a blend of Mahan pecan and hickory nuts, so they can pollinate with either type of tree. They’re also one of the more rare types of pecans you can find and are cold weather tolerant. Kanza pecan trees are also tolerant to the cold and you can harvest the nuts September through October.
Mandan, Oconee, Paper-Shell, Pawnee and Zinner pecans all have softer shells making them easy to peel. Paper-Shell and Pawnee pecans both have a sweet flavor. Interestingly, Pawnee pecan trees only grow up to 30 feet, so the trees are on the smaller side.