We all know that pecans make great desserts. We might eat them single as a snack, as part of a pie in our Thanksgiving dinner, crushed with ice cream or as topping in smoothie bowls. It is needless to say that pecans have a very rich flavor that complements well with others, to create a delicious and unique taste. Despite it being quite easy for us to obtain pecans, I can’t help but wonder, do we actually know how pecans grow? Are there different types of pecans? Do they fall from trees or grow underground just as peanuts do? To answer these questions, first, we need to understand a little bit about pecans themselves, don’t you think?
The word “pecan” comes from pakan, an Algonquian term meaning “hard nut” or “hard to crack.” It is one of the most valuable nuts in North America as it is cultivated and distributed to the entire world. Pecans are nutritional nuts meaning they contain high antioxidants that can help us decrease health risks. They have high energy levels and are rich in Vitamin E. Currently, over 500 different types of pecans exist, each differing both in texture, flavor, color, size, and shape. Click here to learn more about the differences between the main types of pecans.
Pecan Trees – Do pecans fall from trees or grow underground?
Yes, pecans do grow from trees. Trees that can live a healthy life for more than 100 years! Typically, their height ranges from 70 to 100 feet, and their
trunks can grow to be more than three feet in diameter. The pecan tree has a particular lifecycle, but before it can start producing delicious nuts, it takes from 10 to 12 years for them to fully mature.
Pecan trees grow female and male flowers in the Spring. They can be differenced amongst each other in that female flowers are barely the size of blueberries, while male flowers grow next to each other in spikes called catkins.
Pecan Orchards – Where do pecans grow?
Pecan trees are often planted in Pecan Orchards or “Nogaleras”, where cultivation takes place. The seeds are usually planted in multiple rows with 60 to 70 feet of space between them. Separating the seeds is of key importance to avoid jeopardizing the trees’ long and healthy life. This is because not only their trunk grows wider as time goes by, but their roots need space for them to extend far below the surface as well. Within pecan cultivation, and as any other crop, sun and soil are vital components to ensure successful growth. It is imperative for pecan orchards to be placed in a land where moist, sandy, and well-drained soil can be maintained.
Pecan Cultivation – How exactly do pecans grow?
In order for you to better understand the process of pecan cultivation, I have taken the liberty to divide the process into 5 different stages.
Stage #1: Pecan seeds are planted with separation from one another in Pecan orchards.
Stage #2: During the Springtime, trees bloom both female and male flowers. Male flowers produce and shed pollen.
Stage #3: Male pollinated flowers transform into hard and green husks.
Stage #4: During Autumn, the husks turn brown and peel back to reveal the mature nut.
Stage #5: Once it is fully matured, the nut falls to the ground and lays in the orchard ground for 3 to 4 days. This period allows them to dry out.
As you can see, pecans are a very versatile type of nut. They are rich in flavor, have an interesting history, give us essential nutrients, and make delicious desserts. Their cultivation is not an easy process, it requires time, dedication, and most of all, patience. This is the #1 rule that anyone who wishes to cultivate pecans must always keep in mind!