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The History of Pecans In America

The History of Pecans In America
Did you know pecans are the only tree nut native to North America?  The origin of the pecan can be traced back as early as the 1500s and was named by Native Americans.  The word pecan is derived from the Algonquin tribe's word "pacane" which translates to "nuts requiring a stone to crack”.  Native Americans were the first to cultivate and utilize wild pecans and their trees.  They highly valued pecans for their delicious taste, nutritional content, and because they were easier to shell than other North American nut species.  They even used pecans to make a fermented drink called “Powcohicora".
Between the late 1600's and the early 1700s, Spanish colonists cultivated pecan orchards.  The 1700s were an important time period for pecans.  In 1772, Long Island, New York, became the location where the first pecan trees were planted in the United States.  In 1775, George Washington planted pecan trees and so did Thomas Jefferson in 1779.  By the end of the 1700s, pecans became increasingly popular, and therefore their economic potential was realized.
In 1802, pecans were exported by the French to the West Indies.  In 1822, a man from South Carolina named Abner Landrum discovered a new pecan budding technique.  This allowed pecan plants to unite with a growing wild plant by placing it in close contact, thus creating a superior nut. For some reason, this was forgotten until 1876.  It was then an African-American slave gardener from Louisiana, named Antoine successfully recreated this grafting technique. The Best Pecan Exhibited award at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 went to Antoine and his seeds were the first official planting of improved pecans.
From then on, the growth and spreading of these trees were gradual.  However, in 1880, the pecan industry began to boom when Louisiana and Texas nurserymen learned of pecan grafting and began propagation on a commercial level.
The pecan industry has steadily increased since 1920 when commercial processing began.  It has risen from 2.2 million pounds to around 300 million pounds today. The United States is the world's largest producer of pecans and they are exported worldwide.  It's easy to see why this is the case because pecans are a versatile nut that can easily be added to salads, desserts, and other delectable recipes.

The History of the First Pecan Trees in St. Marys, Georgia

The History of the First Pecan Trees in St. Marys, Georgia
Recently, Bag-A-Nut's CEO, Caleb Dudley, and his wife, Shama (also Bag-A-Nut's Marketing Manager), were visiting St. Marys, Georgia on business. They had no idea they would encounter the site of where the first pecan trees were planted around 1840.

Caleb's grandfather, James Dudley, came up with the idea for the Bag-A-Nut harvester in 1988. After spending a weekend in Georgia picking up pecans on his hands and knees, he knew there had to be a better way, so he invented the first Bag-A-Nut machine.

When the opportunity came up to visit the site where first pecan trees were planted, Caleb and Shama were immediately intrigued. They were leaving the downtown area by St. Marys Waterfront and noticed a bunch of pecan trees. "We found it by accident," Caleb said. They learned from a marker near Weed Street that these trees had an interesting history.

The maker states:
" Grown from pecan nuts found floating at sea by Captain Samuel F. Flood and planted by his wife, nee Rebecca Grovenstine on Block 47. The remainder of these nuts were planted by St. Joseph Sebastian Arnow in the north half of Block 26.

These first plantings produced large and heavy-bearing trees, as did their nuts and shoots in turn. Taken from St. Marys to distant points throughout southeastern states, they became famous before the Texas pecans were generally known." -Georgia Historical Commission 1953

The fact they stumbled upon this site without looking for it was pretty incredible. Caleb reflects on that day saying "It was like the birthplace of perfection or the Garden of Eden in America...for pecan lovers." Now, this rich history gives more insight into these beautiful trees and the delicious pecans they bear.

Sources: https://digitalcommons.unf.edu/historical_architecture_main/4891/

2018 Best Pecan Pie Recipe

2018 Best Pecan Pie Recipe
Every year Bag-A-Nut goes to the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, GA. For the past 6 years, we have been staying at a fancy bed and breakfast, which I look forward to because of all the amazing meals and delicious desserts. My all-time favorite is the Pecan Pie. I convinced Ann, the bed and breakfast owner, to let me share her recipe.