Pecans have been an important part of southern diet and culture since before the arrival of European settlers. The first successful grafts of the pecan tree were done in 1846 by a Louisiana plantation gardener. The cultivation of the pecan tree increased, and the technique of sowing proved to be the most effective.
Today the tree is most widely cultivated in the states of New Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and Texas, where the pecan tree is the official state tree.
Georgia is the nation's largest supplier of pecans, accounting for about a third of U.S. pecan production.
An average pecan harvest in Georgia is about 88 million pounds - enough to make 176 million pecan pies. However, in 2008 the crop was 70 million pounds.
The state's major pecan-producing region is near Albany, in south-central Georgia, although there are large and small orchards from Atlanta southward. The peak harvesting months for Georgia pecans are October–December.
Pecans are often associated with the traditional pie or pralines, but they are used in a variety of recipes, from cookies and desserts to salads and main dishes. Pecans can replace just about any nut in cookies.
Pecans are available in many forms; you'll find them vacuum-packed in jars, sealed in plastic bags or in cans. For the freshest and most flavorful pecans, choose whole ones in the shell; look for nuts that are heavy for their size and don't rattle when shaken. There shouldn't be any cracks or holes in the shells. When you buy shelled pecans, look for a date on the bag or container. Shelled pecans absorb odors and turn rancid quickly, so they should be stored in a sealed container when placed in the refrigerator.
If you buy more than you can use right away, pecans can be stored in the freezer for up to two years in a moisture-proof plastic bag. Unshelled pecans may be stored for about 3 months at room temperature.
Even though pecans have a high fat content, they're a good source of potassium, thiamine, zinc, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, niacin, folic acid, iron and vitamin B6. They are also a good source of fiber.
Pecans are rich in oleic acid, a mono-unsaturated fat believed to help prevent heart disease.
Commercial and Professional Publications
- Clover Management in Pecan Orchards
- Cultural Management of Commercial Pecan Orchards
- Establishing a Pecan Orchard
- Drip Irrigation in Pecans
- Pecan Varieties for Georgia Orchards
- Budding and Grafting of Pecan
- Nutritional, Environmental and Cultural Disorders of Pecan
For the latest news about Extension, visit Georgia FACES. News you can use about Georgia family, agricultural, consumer and enviromental sciences.
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- USDA funds UGA research on nutritional, health benefits of pecans
- What is the right way to say 'pecan'?
- Georgia's most valuable pecan crop ever?
- Weather dampens Sunbelt Expo
- Drought puts squeeze on Georgia pecans
- China's demand pushes pecan prices to historic highs
- Georgia Pecan Information
Summarizes the history and recent production output of Georgia's peach growers. Includes extensive resources on pecan growth and pest management, newsletters from and contact information for the Pecan Team and external links.
- Georgia Pecan
Facts and handbooks about pest control, insect pests, and major diseases of pecans in Georgia.
- Impact Statements: Pecans
Descriptions of Extension efforts to improve knowledge and practices related to pecans.
- Pecan Truffles
Presents basic information about truffles including where to purchase or find them. Includes a few research resources and links to external websites.
- UGA Pecan Breeding Program
Lists pecan cultivars, recommends cultivars for different environments and shares links to related papers and external websites.
- Georgia Pecan Commission
Targets consumers with extensive recipe lists, health facts and information on purchasing and storing.
- Georgia Pecan Growers Association
Connects visitors to state pecan growers' associations and pecan suppliers and hosts conferences. Provides detailed nutritional information on pecans.
- History of Pecans in Georgia
New Georgia Encyclopedia article on industry and production.
- National Pecan Shellers Association
Targets consumers with recipe lists, extensive health information and purchasing information.