The crop water stress index (CWSI), based on the relationship between the canopy temperature of a well-watered plant in full sunlight and the atmospheric water content, numerically quantifies water stress. A 4-year study was established to determine the long-term effect of water application levels on production, nut quality characteristics, and growth of pecans [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) C. Koch cv. Western Schley]. Highest yields were attained when trees were relatively nonstressed (CWSI ≤ 0.08). Trees subjected to moderate water stress before irrigation (CWSI ≥ 0.20) showed reduced yield, nut weight, and tree growth, although water-use efficiency increased. With water management practices resulting in maximum yield, nut size, and tree growth (CWSI ≤ 0.08), tree water use varied up to 44% in the same orchard, depending on crop load and yearly climatic variations.