Native to North America, the typical pecan tree will grow up to 100 feet tall, with a trunk typically around 3 feet in diameter. However, there have been some pecan trees that have reached approximately 170 feet. Once they reach adulthood, the trees make excellent shade for people and shelter for squirrels and birds. The tree provides edible nuts as well as wood that is made into furniture and flooring. Used in main dishes, on salads, as appetizers, in desserts and pies, the pecan is not only delicious, it is an excellent source of protein.
Where Pecan Trees Grow
Wild pecans grow in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mexico, Mississippi, Georgia, Oklahoma and other surrounding states. The pecan tree is officially the state tree of Texas.
Growing Pecan Trees
Pecan trees thrive in sandy soil or a sand and loam mixture. They need good drainage, and they don't do well in areas prone to flooding. Most varieties of pecan trees alternate between a large annual crop and smaller crops. There are some varieties that have more consistent production of nuts.
Production of Pecans
Approximately one million acres produce an average of 200 million to 300 million pounds of pecans. The U.S. produces more than 80 percent of the world's pecans. Depending on the variety of pecan, each nut can be from 1 to 2 1/2 inches long. The shells vary in thickness.
Varieties and Sizes
Pecan trees come in many varieties and sizes. Some of the varieties include Stuart, Papershell, Mahans, Cheyenne, Sioux and more than a thousand more---many of them named after tribes of Native Americans. The sizes are classified as mammoth, large, medium, small and midget.
Pecan Tree Predators
In addition to squirrels helping themselves to pecans, insects can also be a problem. The pecan nut casebearer, the hickory shuckworm and the pecan weevil are pests that attack pecan groves and give growers something to worry about.
Pecans are high in nutritional value. In addition to being a good source of protein, they are also high in zinc.
Pecan Capital of U.S.
With more than 600,000 pecan trees, Albany, Georgia, can claim the title of "Pecan Capital of the U.S." Their annual National Pecan Festival features a parade, a cooking contest (using pecans, of course), and a National Pecan Queen.