uring the winter months, pecan trees are dormant and have no leaves. In the spring the trees begin to “bud out” forming new growth with leaves, tassels, and pecan nutlets. During this period the nutlets are pollinated and begin to grow.
Over the next six months the nuts gradually grow larger and larger as the orchard is maintained. This maintenance includes fertilizing, bushhogging, removing broken limbs and various other care.
When pecan nuts are fully mature, the shuck begins to separate from the shell, exposing the pecans for the process of drying. The speed and completeness of this drying depends on the variety of pecan and weather conditions. Harvesting is usually delayed until the shucks have been completely dried and are brittle enough to be shaken from the branches without damaging the trees.
The quantity of pecans and size of the tree determines the most economical method of harvesting. Pecans on young trees can be shaken by hand. They can be caught on tarpaulins or large sheets.
The method of harvesting from large trees is completely mechanized, by removing pecans with a tree shaker, sweeping them into rows, and picking them up with nut harvesters. Pecans are then separated from leaves, small limbs and other debris at a Pecan Cleaning Plant by various cleaning machines. After cleaning, the pecans are always stored in a cool, dry place.
Pecans are sampled and purchased on the basis of percent shell-out and kernel quality, and the color and nut size.
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