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What do Pecan Growers do?

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  • Written By: Sonal Panse
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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Pecan growers cultivate pecan trees on a commercial basis, harvest and dry the pecan nuts, and supply them to markets around the world. Commercial pecan cultivation requires an in-depth knowledge of irrigation, fertilization, pest prevention, tree pruning, pollination, harvesting and marketing.

To stay abreast with new developments in pecan cultivation and new markets for pecan nuts, many pecan tree growers participate in professional associations like those of the southeastern pecan growers, the western pecan growers and the northern pecan growers. These associations are specific to the U.S., which produces around 80% of the world's pecan nuts; other pecan-producing countries are Argentina, Australia, China, Israel, Mexico and South Africa. American associations cooperate with other international associations like the Australian pecan growers association, and organize conventions and maintain informative websites to promote an exchange of knowledge and expertise amongst pecan cultivators.

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There are numerous pecan nut varieties, but it has become common for pecan growers to plant grafted trees that can produce the large, meaty pecan nuts that are in demand commercially. Since pecan trees are long-lived, grow to massive heights and have extensive root systems, the trees are usually planted at least 10.9 yards (10 m) to 21.9 yards (20 m) apart to facilitate healthy growth; keeping a similar distance between two adjoining pecan tree rows is also recommended. Sometimes, in case of unavailability of sufficient land, a pecan grower may plant trees closer together and, after several years of harvesting a bountiful nut crop, may chop down some of the trees as they began to crowd one another. Pecan tree wood has good value, so from the commercial point of view, this can be a profitable investment for a pecan grower.

While pecan trees are generally quite hardy, it is important to guard the trees against weeds and pests. The trees are regularly pruned to get rid of dead wood, to facilitate easy movement around the trees, and to keep the trees at a manageable height. If the trees grow too tall, it can be difficult or impossible to both spray them with pesticides and to harvest the nuts when they are ripe. For good pecan nut production, it is also necessary to ensure that the trees receive plentiful water supply and nutrients. Pecan nuts generally develop from September to November, and are ready to be harvested by May.

To harvest the nuts, pecan growers may either shake the tree manually or by machine. They may lay out nets or mats to catch the falling nuts. The fallen nuts may be gathered manually or by machine. It is important not to let the nuts lie on the ground too long as, with their thin kernels, they are liable to absorb undesirable flavors from the soil. The nuts, once collected, are dried and graded. They are then ready to be shipped to market.

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Sporkasia
Post 4

I have a few pecan trees in my yard. Some years they do really well and I get enough pecans for my family and friends, and I still have more to sell. Then other years the trees do not produce many pecans at all. I never know exactly how many to expect.

When I do have enough to sell, I have found that I can sell them for much more when I shell them first. By investing in a pecan sheller, I have been able to almost double what I make by selling pecans.

Drentel
Post 3

One year when I was in high school, I helped a farmer tend to his trees and then gather the pecans when they fell off the trees in the fall or winter. It was neat to see the tree at all the various stages of production.

When the trees are full of leaves, you don't have a good idea of how many pecans are actually growing on the trees. Sure you can look up in the trees and see them hanging, but you don't get the full effect until they start to drop.

One day after a heavy wind storm, I went to the pecan trees and the ground beneath the trees was literally covered in pecans. They were piled on top of one another in some places. It was an unbelievable sight. I never knew that many pecans were in those trees until they fell to the ground and we had to collect them all.

Feryll
Post 2

My mother and father have pecan trees on their property. There are a couple of really large and old trees that have been around for ever, and then the others are descendants of those two. Somehow the seeds have been spread around over the years, and now my parents have about a dozen trees that are producing significant numbers of pecans.

There are also smaller trees that will probably be producing pecans in the not too distance future. Based on all the pecans they get when they have never done anything to help the trees grow, becoming a pecan grower seems like a good idea.

I bet my parents could make a good bit of money if they did some of the things mentioned in this article, like pruning the trees and treating for weeds and pests.

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