Nature

Harvesting Pecans in the Texas Hill Country

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Love pecans? You’re not alone. Of all the nut varieties, pecans are the only one commercially grown in Texas. The soils of the state’s well-drained Hill Country make ideal conditions for these trees, but once a farmer has an orchard ready for harvest, he must get as many nuts off the tree in as short amount of time as possible. Unlike peaches or apples, you cannot pick pecans one-by-one off trees in a commercial orchard. How the harvesting of pecans happens is a lot more interesting than you might think.

Harvesting Pecans in Commercial Orchards

Tree shaker used in harvesting pecans

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Commercial pecan orchards use large, mechanized shakers. These machines grab the tree trunk and literally shake the tree free of its pecans, which fall to the ground. A harvester scoops the pecans from the ground and collects them into a bin. After collection, the pecans must be dried to prevent spoilage and processed to ready them for sale.

Harvesting Pecans at Home

Pecan nuts on a tree

Photo: www.publicdomainpictures.net

If you have pecan trees in your yard, which is likely as they grow in 152 counties in Texas, you can harvest the nuts yourself without expensive equipment. But for harvesting pecans, you will need to replicate the commercial process on a smaller scale. A length of PVC pipe or a pair of hands can substitute for a tree shaker, and eager children can replace a harvester. In lieu of these, grab individual limbs on the tree and shake them to force the pecans to fall to the ground. Then pick up as many as you can and bag them up. To preserve your harvest, you’ll need to remove the outer husk and dry the pecans yourself.

Processing Pecans

Shelled pecans
Photo: Public Domain Pictures

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