Monday, December 21, 2009

What I Didn't Know About Pecan Harvesting

Pecan nuts on tree (Wikimedia Commons)

Now that we live in an area of pecan orchards--our property is surrounded by someone else's pecan trees--we are learning about how pecans are grown and harvested. In some big commercial orchards, there are fences all around to discourage human trespassers, and propane cannons go off at intervals to scare off ravens who might otherwise enjoy some free pecan meals.

In our neighborhood, the orchards are much smaller and unfenced. The trees around us hang over our fence, so we find handfuls of pecan hulls in our yard, just there for the picking. We strip off the hulls and bring in the pecans to age a bit before cracking them.

We've been watching our neighbor across the street to see how he deals with his dozen or so pecan trees. First, he raked up all the fallen leaves in the yard, leaving them in rows along the fence line. Then, to our surprise, one clear and calm afternoon he sprayed the piles with kerosene and set them all on fire. The low fires didn't seem to hurt the trees, gave his grandchildren a great deal to be excited about, and were soon out, leaving clean ground behind and all ready for the next step.

My neighbor's leaf fire

This morning, a group of strong young men arrived and began beating the tree branches with long poles. Now they are crawling along the ground (how I admire their knees!) and gathering the nuts by hand.

In larger orchards, large machines that shake the trees are used. I hope to get photos of that happening soon.


Brenda's Arizona said...

Pecan harvesting is quite a science! I remember the hard husks around the shells and how my fingers would hurt (and be stained) peeling them off. The best hull cracker I ever had was my dog!

the7msn said...

And this explains why they're so expensive. Who knew?