Here at SNRA Commodities, we deal in one thing and one thing only – quality, natural tasting pecans! The pecan, known to folks in lab coats as the Carya illinoinensis, is a tree with quite a history, though it is one of the most recently domesticated crops. Curious about Carya illinoinensis? How did Texas pecan farming start? Where do they thrive? This time on the SNRA Commodities blog, it’s Pecan 101!
The pecan tree is a species of hickory that grows up to, on average 66 to 131 ft in height, while its branches spread out up to 75 ft. They are native throughout the Southern U.S. and Mexico. It can be found as far north as Illinois and south into Mexico. You may be thinking, “Well then why am I looking for ‘Texas pecans’?” The truth is, 75% of all pecans come from either Georgia, New Mexico, or… that’s right Texas! But more on that in a bit.
Fun Fact: Pecan Trees can live for over 300 years, and produce pecans all the while. That means you may have eaten a pecan from the same tree as a Founding Father!
The name, ‘pecan’ comes from the Algonquian word for any nut that requires a stone to crack. Interestingly enough, the pecan is not actually a nut. Wild right? That’s because they are technically a drupe, which is a kind of fruit that has a single pit. Drupes include plants such as coffee, mangos, olives, dates, plums, peaches, and more. It is this pit or seed that we are talking about when we talk about pecan ‘nuts.’
Pecans have been a treat for a long time. Wild pecans were enjoyed by colonial and native Americans for a long time, though commercial growing of pecans did not truly start until the late 19th century, the 1880’s and has been ramping up ever since! At this point, the U.S. produces over 250 million pounds of pecans a year, and over ~187 million comes just from New Mexico, Georgia, and yes, Texas. Pecans are grown where the summers are hot, humid, and long, with the harvest occurring usually in mid-October.
Since this is a 101 course we can discuss the nutritional information and values of pecans.
In 100 grams of pecans there are:
Carbohydrates: 13.86 (~4 of which are sugar, and 9.6 are dietary fiber)
Fun Fact: In 1919, the state legislature made the state tree of Texas pecan trees!
Pecans have a long history in Texas and the South as a whole. They were a great food source for preagricultural societies such as the native Americans, due to how long pecans can stay edible after their growing season. They stay tucked inside those husks waiting for harvesting.
In the 16th century when Spanish explorers, moving through Mexico, Louisiana, and Texas, pecans found their way to Europe, Asia, and Africa returning with the explorers back to the Old World! Now the whole world knew the delight of pecans!
The pecan’s popularity has continued through the centuries and now the U.S. produces 80% of the world’s total pecan crop. The city of Albany, Georgia, in particular, has more than 600,000 pecan trees and plays host to the annual National Pecan Festival. While they claim the title of Pecan Capital of the World, San Saba, Texas would have a word with them about that claim!
Pecans, whether they hail from Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Illinois, or Mexico, are our bread and butter. They are what Sam Digregorio knew when he opened up SNRA Commodities in 2013 and his desire to provide the lowest possible price for buyers and to give the growers the fairest price for their pecans. We aren’t interested in making the most dollars per pecan. We want to give everyone the best deal they can get, whether they are buying fancy midget pecan pieces to make their dessert topping, or farmers looking to sell their crop for the highest dollar.
Are you looking to buy pecan halves or pieces? Are you a pecan farmer trying to find a better deal? Get in touch today and we can start doing business!