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How to Harvest Pecans

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How to Harvest Pecans

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Overview

Pecan trees are native to the southern central part of the United States. Left to their own devices, they grow in rich soil along rivers and creek bottoms. Pecan trees flower in the spring, roughly 7 months before the resulting nuts are ready for harvesting.

Step 1

Look at the husks that hold the nuts. If the husks have split open and you can see the nuts inside, they're ready to harvest.

Step 2

Pick up any nuts that are already lying on the ground under the tree and put them in the bucket.

Step 3

Spread a clean bedsheet on the ground around the trunk of the tree. Cover at least a foot of the ground beyond the outermost branches of the tree with the sheet. If necessary, use more than one sheet.

Step 4

With the wooden stick, tap the branches of the tree to encourage the nuts to fall off the tree.

Step 5

When you've gotten all (or at least most) of the nuts off, carefully pick the sheet up off the ground by its corners, letting the nuts collect in the center.

Step 6

Carefully pour the nuts out of the sheet and into the bucket.

Step 7

Take the bucket to the table, dump the nuts out on it and remove any husks that are still encasing the nuts.

Step 8

Find a place indoors to store your nuts where it's dry and where pests like mice can't get to them. An airy garage or garden shed would work well.

Step 9

Pick a spot in your chosen place that's not in direct sunlight. Set the screens up there by putting small pieces of square or oblong wood beneath the corners of each one, so air can circulate around and through the screens.

Step 10

Spread the nuts out in a single layer on the screens and leave them to dry for 2 weeks.

Step 11

Test one nut to see if it's dry by trying to bend it. If it cracks open with a snap, it's dry enough. If not, leave the nuts on the screens for another week and then test again.

Tips and Warnings

  • The longer you wait to harvest your nuts after the husks open, the more nuts you'll lose to squirrels and other wildlife. Be careful not to whack the tree too roughly with the sticks---if you bruise or cut the bark, pests and disease-bearing microorganisms can attack the tree through the wounds.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Clean bedsheet(s)
  • One wooden stick, at least 4 feet long
  • Table or other large flat surface
  • Fine mesh screens
  • Square or oblong pieces of wood (no more than 2 inches long)

References

  • Home Fruit Production---Pecans; John A. Lipe, Larry Stein, George Ray McEachern, John Begnaud and Sammy Helmers; AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M System
  • If you freeze them right, pecans will last a long time; Heloise; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 25, 2004
Keywords: pecans, freezing pecan nuts, drying pecans

About this Author

Cheyenne Cartwright has worked in publishing for more than 25 years. She has served as an editor for several large nonprofit institutions, and her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including "Professional Bull Rider Magazine." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Oklahoma Christian University and a Master of Arts in English from the University of Tulsa.