I called Womack's Nursery in De Leon, Texas, and ordered six 12"-18" grafted pecan trees, three of each flower type. Pecan flowers are dichogamous, which means that the male and female flowers on a tree mature at different times. This is a strategy that has evolved to prevent self-fertilization and promote genetic diversity. In protogynous (female first) flowers, the pistils are receptive to pollination first, and and then shed pollen. In protandrous (male first) flowers, the pollen is shed first, and then the pistils become receptive to pollination. In order to get good cross pollination, I ordered three protandrous and three protogynous cultivars:
Protandrous: Oconee, Desireable, and Podsednik
Protogynous: Choctaw, Kanza, and Lakota
The trees arrived on Monday, packaged well and in great shape, with each one having a significant root system up to two and a half feet long. So far I've been very impressed with Womack's and will definitely order from them again. Since I couldn't plant them right away, I covered the roots in moist potting soil until the weekend. Once the kids went down for their naps yesterday, I snuck out the vacant lot and got to work. Thankfully the ground was fairly soft from all the rain we've had recently, because I had to dig some seriously big holes to accommodate the tree's long taproots.
I planted the trees approximately 35 feet apart along the northern edge of the lot where they should be fairly out of the way. It also looks like water from the nearby homes drains to that area, which will be big plus if we have another brutally dry summer. I placed a 3-gallon pot with the bottom cut out around each tree to protect the trunk, and marked them with orange pin flags, small t-posts with some orange flag tape, and metal tags with the variety names. I'm hoping that this will be enough to keep the mowers that come around every couple of months from cutting them down. If I can fool the mowers into thinking that those trees are supposed to be there, then the trees' chances of survival will be that much better. I'm going to go back later and add some printed labels with an official sounding name, for a little extra insurance.
So now when I drive by the lot every day on my way home from work, I'll be keeping an eye on my squat pecan orchard, and not just day dreaming. They may get run over by a mower, pulled out by the landowner, or otherwise killed by drought or disease, but at least I will have tried. Who knows? They might even make it. The boys and I could be picking up pecans in five years or so. If the trees survive until next year I'll plant six more, and just keep adding trees every year until the whole lot is planted.