If you have a beautiful fruit-bearing pecan tree and green pecans have begun to fall, what should you do with them and why is this happening in the first place? There are many factors that can contribute to green pecans falling. There may be hope for some of them, but you'll have to do some investigating to find out.
Why Are Pecans Falling off the Tree Green?
In most cases, pecan trees drop their nuts in the fall when they are fully ripe and ready to be harvested. The husk will start to split and the nutshell beneath the husk will turn brown. When fallen pecans are green, this means something has interfered with the ripening process.
• High winds from hurricanes and tornadoes
• Pests knocking them down
• Tree purging itself of too much fruit
• Insufficient water or soil deficiency (usually nitrogen or zinc)
• Pests like worms
• Poor pollination
Should Green Pecans be Picked Up?
Yes, all pecans should be picked up, even if there is no intent to sell or utilize them. Green pecans left on the ground can attract pests and make sorting more difficult if good, fully ripened nuts fall later. In most cases, the nut inside a green pecan isn't edible because it hasn't had time to fully develop. You'll be able to tell if they taste bitter and have a sticky, soft texture, instead of the buttery, rich, and nutty flavor of a ripe pecan.
How to Peel & Cure Green Pecans
If you’re able to peel off the green skin, you can try to salvage green pecans. If you can't, this means they’ve fallen far too soon and cannot be used. Make sure to wear protective gloves when attempting to peel the skin because green pecans can dye your skin black for a few days. Press a blade into the outer husk until you reach the hard inner shell. Score it by spinning the pecan as you hold the blade in place. Make two circles in perpendicular intersections around the green shell. Pull each divided section with the tip of your knife until you've removed the green husk from the hard inner shell. Scrape off any leftover green spots. Let them sit in a warm, well-ventilated area so the pecans can dry out. In about a week, they will turn brown and be ready to eat. They won't taste as good as a pecan that matured while still on the tree, but you may be able to get some use out of them.
If you’re looking of a quick and easy way to pick up pecans, check out our Pecan Nut Harvesters.