The pecan is a type of tree native to northern Mexico and the southern United States in the region of the Mississippi River. The cultivation of the tree for its seeds in Georgia, Texas and Mexico, produces nearly half of the world total. The seed is namely a popular edible nut: the pecan.
The tree is large with a height up to 40 meters, and its leaves are alternate with 9-17 feather-like leaflets. It can live over 300 years, starts producing seeds after five to seven years and yields the best harvests between 75 and 225 years. The tree can self-pollinate; however, cross-pollination ensures much better harvests. Also, when a tree’s crop is large, it does not have enough nutrients to establish maturing the nuts as well as storing enough plant food for adequate production in the following year. Hence the second year’s harvest might not be as good.
The edible nut is technically a drupe – a fruit with a single stone or pit surrounded by a husk – instead of a nut. During the summer months, buds are formed, which flower in the following spring. A pecan has both female and male flowers, of which the male flowers shed pollen. The pollinated flowers transform into pecans that grow within green husks. In the autumn, these husks turn brown and peel back to reveal the finally mature nuts. Farmers will shake off all mature nuts with a machine and will let the nuts dry out in the orchard for three to four days. After that, they gather the nuts into rows so a machine can pick them up easier. At the packing plant, the nuts are separated from everything else, finished drying to less than 5% moisture and then cleaned, sorted, sized, (cracked) and packed.
The nut resembles a walnut but tends to be longer, slenderer, and smoother in appearance. The shell is easier to crack than walnut shells, and it is spotted brown and smooth. The nuts come in a multitude of varieties, and different sizes from “midget” to “mammoth”, and they possess many impressive health benefits, which makes them an incredibly versatile food. They have a rich, buttery texture and naturally sweet taste.
More information can be found on our Cornhouse Nuts News page.