October 26, 2011

Looks Like A Good Year For Pecans

A sample of this year's pecan harvest

A good year for pecans and hickory nuts both. Not in terms of quantity, because pecans are something I only get gleanings of after the squirrels have had their way with them. Squirrels are greedy, wasteful little buggers. They start feasting on them while they are still green, often only cracking and eating the end of a pecan before dropping it to the ground, at which point the ants take over. I look at the mess under the pecan and hickory trees, and wonder if they'll be any left for us.

For the past two years I've dutifully collected pecans, only to actually net about one good one, for every 7 or 8 or 9 cracked open. I found the yield very discouraging, so that I would only work toward getting enough for a favorite recipe or two and leave the rest. Truth be told, I wasn't even going to bother with them this year. But when I spotted the first few on the ground, whole and lovely, I couldn't help but to pick them up. I immediately noticed how heavy they felt in the palm of my hand. I cracked a few to discover lovely nutmeats inside.

This year my results are the reverse of previous years, and I'm getting very few bad ones. I already have two quarts in the freezer (my time passer as I waited as a standby helper while Dan was moving the wiring from the old breaker box to the new).

The pecans are still falling and every day I manage to collect a pocketful or two.  I am looking forward to holiday baking and it will be nice to have my own stash in the freezer as well.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

When you crack your hickory nuts save the shells. This winter you can toss them into your wood burning stove or fireplace for that hickory scent all over the house.

Jane said...

I love pecans. How great you beat the squirrels. If I ever get south I always like to load up on the pecans. Yum

Woolly Bits said...

hm, I prefer pecan nuts to pretty much all others - but unfortunately they are not native, so quite expensive to buy. and then I hear stories of people in germany, who had a nut feast on their walnut trees, 40+ kg of nuts in one go:(( and my trees? not a single nut inside:(( I think nuts are prone to good (mast) and bad years - so make the most of what you can collect:)) pecan pie... yummeeh:))

Nina said...

Yummy! Pecans are definitely out of our growing zone here. They are wonderful eating nuts though. How exciting that you're getting a good harvest this year. If we had more space, I'd look at grown Hazelnuts as there are supposed to be species hardy enough for our zone and they're supposed to be low maintenance suitable for hedgerows, and not so popular with the squirrels.

Mr. H. said...

How nice to have pecan trees, they are so expensive to buy. Enjoy those wonderful nuts and may many more fall in your path.

Laura said...

Pecans - yum! I love the fireplace suggestion that anon made, too. For whatever reason (sandy soil?), pecan trees have never been successfully on our family homestead.

Laura @ Suburban Townhouse, Country Cottage

Leigh said...

Good tip Anonymous!

Jane, I'm wondering if the squirrels prefer the acorns actually, which are also having a prolific year. The pecans are a welcome treat, and so much easier to shell than walnuts. The hickories are a little harder, but not too bad.

Bettina, I think you're right about good and bad years for things. I've noticed that with the wild muscadines around here too. Encourages me to take advantage of what I can get in case next year might not be so good.

Nina, I planted two hazelnuts last fall, though they're still pretty small (I don't think I watered them regularly enough). They are tasty too and it's nice to know the squirrels don't care for them as much.

Mr. H, thanks! If we didn't have the trees I wouldn't be buying them, that's for sure. :)

Laura, I feel very blessed that these mature trees were here when we bought the place. I'm looking forward to my almond and hazels growing up! Hopefully, they'll do as well.

Serenity Love Sincere Peace Earth said...

After my brother was born in 1963 but WAAAAAY before I was born (I'm not telling the year), my mother's father planted pecan trees for us both. (He was long dead by the time I was conceived) Until very recently (my mother's sister has bad Alzheimer's)we never wanted for pecans. Auntie would send pecans every month. Now that I have to buy my own... I truly see how we were fortunate.

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

As an after thought wish we had planted Pecan trees than ornamental Pears..which are pretty in bloom but smell terrible..and is a waste..where we would be enjoying some good pecans by now (11 years later)

Sherri B. said...

That's just what those naughty squirrels do to the walnuts on the land where the Little House is. Good for you for beating them to it. I imagine those goodies that you bake up will taste that much sweeter! xo

Leigh said...

Serenity, good point. We all know we're not supposed to take things for granted, but it's not until it's gone that we understand the true value of a thing.

Ginny, another good point. In fact, I decided when we first got the place 2.5 years ago, that I would only plant things that were edible or medicinal. I have to force myself not to buy pretty plants, but your experience is a good reminder.

Sherri, those squirrels! I'm not sure if we have more pecans this year or less squirrels. They're everywhere, but I think the cats do a good job of keeping them at a distance.

Susan said...

I think pecans are the perfect nut! Those are beautiful! Maybe you can scatter some acorns under the pecan tree to lure the squirrels away? What a waste, indeed.

Sofies Haus said...

the pecans look yummy:-), hughs Anja

Renee said...

Pecans are my favorite! Glad you got a bunch this year. I wish they grew here.

Mama Pea said...

We have trouble growing any kind of nut here as we're so far north. So being able to grow and harvest such a nutritional food right in your yard is fantastic. So glad to hear you're having a good nut year. I'm sure the nut trees go in cycles like the fruit trees. Some years really good, some years not so much. I think I'd make a special effort to get as many of those pecans as possible. That's worth a lot of $$$!

Leslie said...

They look yummy, I love pecans, (most other nuts too). It is nice that the squirrels left you so many this year. Sometimes I get so frustrated with sharing my food with all the critters. I have a young almond tree but have never got to taste one. The squirrels always get to them first.

Tom Stewart said...

Last year the squirrels left me a gift on the back deck. One PECAN, So I put it into a pot and set it in my kitchen window. It came up and did quite well. I transplanted it to a bigger pot and took it out side earlier and had to transplant it again.
This is the hard way to get a Pecan tree, But what the hack?
If it makes it and I ever get any nuts from it, Do you think the squirrels will think it's their tree and take all the NUTS?

Leigh said...

Susan, I grew up with walnuts, but it didn't take long to be converted to pecans. :) Good idea about the acorns!

Anja, thanks! And they are yummy indeed.

Renee, I'll be thankful for whatever I can get. :)

Mama Pea, gosh, no nuts? At all? I'm especially glad that they're a protein source. We've been doing another homestead diet evaluation and protein is always a concern.

Leslie, squirrels can be a nuisance! We planted an almond tree about 2 years ago and got a handful of nuts this year. Just enough for a taste. I don't think our squirrels know about them yet so, shhh.

Tom, that's so funny. Good thinking to plant it. We have pecans growing all over the place from nuts the squirrels bury. They do seem to grow fairly quickly. Those squirrels however, will think it's their tree no matter where that pecan came from. :)

letthismindbeinyou said...

Ohhhh lucky you! We don't have pecans but we are trying our hand with almonds. I just bought a tree a couple of months ago and which will be planted once Todd gets water to the back of the property so they can be properly watered. I can't WAIT to have fresh almonds, but since I have no idea how long that will be, I'll wait patiently and hope it's very soon!

I'm so happy for you!
Kristi

Renee said...

This year I learned to keep the birds from eating all the cherries that I need to net the tree BEFORE the fruit gets noticeable to the birds. That worked really well, but then the yellow jackets (who had already attacked all my apples) flew through the netting and started munching on the cherries too.
I don't think that we'll get apples again as the critters have claimed my tree as theirs...and now the cherry tree is growing too big to net.
I think I'll just give up and buy all my produce from the farmer's market as the critters seem intent on not letting me have any of it.

CaliforniaGrammy said...

Lucky you to have your own source for pecans. I like the idea of scattering acorns under the pecan tree to "fool" the squirrels!

I have a sister who keeps us supplied in bushels of walnuts. She also has a pecan tree but the critters seems to favor those and the harvest is never as prolific as the walnuts.

CaliforniaGrammy said...

I forgot to add that living in the central valley of California we are fortunate to have almond and pistachio groves all around us . . . so we are happy campers!

Susan said...

When we first bought our house in Florida, I came home one day to a box of shelled pecans delivered (20pounds!). Name on the box wasn't anyone we or the previous owner knew, and no return address, so into the freezer they went. My favorite use was for sticky buns. Yummy!

JeffJustJeff said...

Yum. My parents live in Arkansas and usually send me some pecans. I live in Ohio and have a bumper crop of black walnuts, which I don't like. Oh well, we make do. Enjoy your harvest.

Leigh said...

Kristi, almonds are another wonderful nut. We planted our almond tree two years ago, and this year we got loads of blossoms and a handful of almonds. I hope yours does very well. )

Renee, it's tough when the critters figure you've got a great food source!

CaliforniaGrammy, well, in addition to the pecans and hickories in the yard, we also have 3 huge oaks. I have to say that the squirrels here are the same as at your sisters, they prefer pecans!

Susan, wow! I can't believe the sender didn't return address on it. Their loss, your gain.

Jeff, I do like walnuts, but seem to recall that my Grandmother cooked with the English variety rather than the black. I think black walnuts are the most difficult in the world to crack. Every now and then I find a walnut in the yard, but can't figure out where it came from. I'm very happy we have those pecans.

Stephanie said...

Exciting! I am not a fan of nuts (even though I know how good they are for you :P). Hope you enjoy the bounty:)

Rosamargarita said...

Excelente cosecha Leigh! me encantan las nueces
Un abrazo

Leigh said...

Stephanie, yes, it helps to like nuts. :)

Rosamargarita, gracias!

Practical Parsimony said...

Pecans have a year of wonderful bounty every few years. If you want a bounty every year, there is something to apply to the soil. Call the county agent or nearest farm college. I do believe the winter is when to apply (lime, maybe) a fertilizer to the soil. Check first to see what you need.

Pecans are my favorite nut. I grew up with ten acres and a dozen or so trees, always bountiful.

Leigh said...

Yes, I've noticed that about muscadines, so it should be no surprise that other native producers should be the same. Pecans are a favorite here too. :)