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Should Green Pecans be Picked Up?

Should Green Pecans be Picked Up?

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 contribute to green pecans falling.  There may be hope for some of them, but you'll have to do some investigating to find out.

In most cases, pecan trees drop their nuts in the fall when they're 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.  

Possible reasons for green pecans falling include pests knocking them down or the tree could be purging itself of too much fruit.  Insufficient water, soil deficiency (usually nitrogen or zinc),  pests like worms, and poor pollination can also contribute to premature nuts falling.  Some pests will eat green pecans, even though they're not fully ripe.  In most cases, the nut inside 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.

You can try to salvage green pecans if you're able to peel off the green skin.  If you can't, this means they fell 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 shell 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 need help picking them up, check out our Pecan Nut Harvester here.


How to Make Your Pecan Trees Produce More

How to Make Your Pecan Trees Produce More
Producing more pecans from my treePecan trees are beautiful and produce delicious nuts you can snack on and use in a variety of different recipes (including our FAVORITE PECAN PIE!).  If you own pecan trees and want to increase pecan production, it's important to be aware of their key needs.  The most important needs of pecan trees are habitat, pruning, pollination, pest control, fertilizer, and water.  Given enough time and attention to these needs, your trees should have no problem producing an abundance of nuts.

The Georgia Pecan Nursery website has a lot of great information about how to ensure your pecan trees have everything they need to thrive.  One of the most important things to be aware of is you have to have patience.  "On average, it takes 7-10 years before a pecan tree begins to produce a full supply of nuts."  Pecan trees need time to grow in order to produce the highest amount of pecans.  Of course, during that time you can focus on making sure the trees are getting all their needs met.  

Just like animals, trees require the proper habitat.  Pecan trees do best in "properly drained soils that consist of sandy or silty loams". They need plenty of space to grow away from other plants because they can get up to 100 feet tall and the roots can spread up to 70 feet wide.  As your tree matures, it may require corrective pruning.  

Pecan trees cannot self-pollinate and rely on cross-pollination.  Male and female flowers don't blossom on one tree at the same time.  The aforementioned Georgia Pecan Nursery website explains, "It’s essential to have pre-existing pecan trees of different species to ensure that your pecan trees are properly pollinated."

It's always a bummer to discover your pecan trees are infested with pests.  If this does happen, it's important to seek out organic, chemical-free sprays to control this problem.  There are many different products available now for this purpose.  Stark Bro's Nursery and Orchards has great information on their website that will help you identify what type of pest you're dealing with.  They also have sprays you can purchase once you decide which kind you need.

Proper irrigation and fertilizer can help defend against pests and the damage they may cause.  The Stark Bro's Nursery and Orchards website recommends applying small amounts of nitrogen-rich fertilizer in early spring and avoid fertilizing in July as rapid growth can cause frost damage later in the year.  They also explain that "as your pecan trees begin to come into bearing age, it is essential to provide Zinc Sulphate as a feed during the spring. Zinc is necessary for normal tree growth and the development of the nuts."  As with every living thing, pecan trees need water.  You only need to water your trees once a week and make sure the water penetrates at least 3 feet. 

Hopefully, these guidelines are helpful for anyone trying to increase pecan production.  For more information, Check out the How to Care for Pecan Trees blog and the resources linked below.


2019 US Pecan Production Estimate

2019 US Pecan Production Estimate

The pecan crop for the 2019 season is looking to be a little low.  Georgia alone lost about 30% of their pecan production from the devastation of Hurricane Michael last year and it will take many years to recover. Many trees were wiped out, but many are coming back with a good crop. 

2019 Ben Littlepage Memorial Pecan Guesstimate

Alabama  1.5
Arizona  30
Arkansas  1.5
California  4.5
Florida/NC/SC  2.5
Georgia  62
Kansas/Missouri  3
Louisiana  8
Mississippi  4
New Mexico  85
Oklahoma  28
Texas  36
TOTAL 2019 ESTIMATE 266 million pounds

Click HERE for 2017 Pecan Crop Estimate.

Click HERE for 2016 Pecan Crop Estimate.

Click HERE for 2015 Pecan Crop Estimate

Click HERE for 2014 Pecan Crop Estimate