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Harvesting Pecan Trees

Are you ready to enjoy delicious homegrown nuts? Harvest is the time to enjoy the results of your hard work. Keep a few things in consideration as you reap the the benefits of your labor: the best time to pick nuts from your tree, and how to store the nuts.

NOTE: This is part 11 in a series of 11 articles. For a complete background on how to grow pecan trees, we recommend starting from the beginning.

When to Harvest

Harvest pecans in early September through November when they have fallen from the trees. Start your harvest in 3-8 years depending on the variety and growing conditions. Watch for a substantial portion of the husks to have split and opened and the shell to turn brown before gathering. Since wet weather can be harmful to the nuts, pick them up when they begin to drop.

Pecan trees tend towards a biennial bearing cycle, with a heavy crop one year followed by a light crop the next.

Storage

Generally pecans can be stored in a cool, dry place for several months. If stored in the refrigerator or freezer they will last longer. Depending on how you store them, unshelled or shelled and at what temperatures how long they will keep. The nuts will improve in quality as they cure. Do not skip the curing step, if not cured pecans will not crack properly and are difficult to shell. Freezing will stop the curing process. Shell a few to test if the drying process is complete. Bend the kernels until they break, if you hear a sharp snap, pecans have dried enough. If you don’t hear that snap continue drying.

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