Harvest fruits and pecans not necessarily when ripe, but at the proper maturation stage for picking. If harvested too early, you risk loss in taste or the fruit or nut may never mature to the point where you can eat it. When ready to harvest, the right tools, handling and storing procedures are key to protecting the fruit and pecans.
Wait to harvest fruits, such as cherries, apples, plums and peaches, until the fruit is ripe, appears solid in color and the skin gives a little when pressed. Some fruits, such as pears, must ripen off the tree. Pick pears when they are still firm. Taste a fruit from the tree to verify ripeness. Harvest pecans when the shuck, or outside shell, starts to open.
Wash your hands well with water and soap before picking pecans and fruit. Wear gloves to prevent spreading disease.
Set a ladder next to the tree. Climb to the top of the ladder, and place the fruit box on top of the ladder.
Remove fruit from the tree by placing a piece in your hand, lifting and twisting the fruit to separate it from the stem. Never pull the fruit when picking. Set harvested fruit in the fruit box. Remove any damaged or rotting fruit to protect the tree and dispose of it in a trash container.
Shake the branches of the pecan tree to force pecans to drop to the ground. Pick up pecans from the ground and place them in a separate fruit box.
Place fruit on a counter top for ready consumption, or keep fruit in a refrigerator for up to a week. Freeze or can fruit for even longer storage.
Dry pecans before storing. Spread the nuts in a layer on a screen or in a mesh bag. Place in a well-ventilated, room-temperature area away from sunlight. After 2 weeks, pecans should snap when bent; this indicates they are ready to store or use. Store pecans in the refrigerator for up to six months or in the freezer, for the best quality.