Native to North America, pecan trees grow primarily in the southeastern United States. According to the University of Florida Extension, the United States pecan crop is valued at $100 to $200 million annually, with 50 percent being grown in Georgia. While more than 500 types of pecan trees exist, all follow a similar cycle in nut production.
Young pecan trees are usually about 6 feet tall when planted and mature to more than 70 feet tall. During the first few years, young trees are carefully pruned to encourage strong trunks and branches. Depending on the cultivar, trees may not begin producing pecans for four to 12 years.
According to the North Carolina Pecan Growers, during winter dormancy, trees must receive at least 200 chill hours in order to produce nuts. Chill hours are temperatures between 32 degrees to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Nuts begin forming after pollination occurs in April or May. Young pecans, called nutlets, develop during the summer months and reach maturity in September and October.
Harvesting of Nuts
After a growing season of about six months, pecans are typically harvested from October through early December. Pecans are ready for harvesting when the hull or shuck splits away from the nut.
Based in the Atlanta area, Charlene Williams has been writing and editing since 1988. She has over 15 years of experience working as a technical writer in the software industry. She has worked as a freelance writer for the past five years, and is a contributing writer for eHow and Answerbag. Williams holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Kennesaw State University.