Proper Harvesting and Storage of Pecans Improves Quality

This article is a reprint from the LSU Ag department website.

Louisiana is fortunate in that it has a good-tasting, healthful treat that literally falls out of trees. Pecans are found in many yards, pastures, fence rows and river bottoms. Louisiana is a major producer of native pecans, and its many commercial orchards produce improved pecan varieties. Many Louisianans have the opportunity to harvest pecans from their own trees.

Pecans should be harvested soon after they fall. A lot of things can happen to pecans on the ground. Loss from wet weather and hurricanes can be a serious problem. Wet pecans can deteriorate rapidly on the ground if the weather remains warm. Hurricanes and floods can wash pecans away. Excessive loss to squirrels and other critters often occurs in years with light crops.

Pecans often contain excessive moisture when they first fall. The nuts should be dried before they are put in storage. Drying can usually be accomplished by placing the pecans in a shallow layer in a warm, dry area for two weeks. Adding fans and heat can speed drying.

Pecans with high moisture content (more than 6 percent) do not store well. An easy method to determine if pecans are dry enough for storage is to shell a representative sample of the pecans. Bend the kernels until they break. If they break with a sharp snap, the pecans are usually dry enough for storage. If you don’t hear a sharp snap, dry the pecans some more.

Proper storage preserves nut quality until the next pecan crop is harvested. Poor storage often leads to darkening of kernels and rancidity of the oils, destroying the natural flavor and aroma of the nuts.

Store pecans under refrigeration. Lowering the temperature extends storage life, ranging from three months at 70 degrees F to eight years at zero degrees. Nuts can be thawed and refrozen without loss of quality.

Refrigerated or frozen pecans should be placed in airtight containers. Pecan kernels readily absorb odors from other foods, resulting in off flavors. Pecans stored at room temperature for an extended period should be held in containers that are adequately ventilated. Avoid storing in plastic bags pecans that have not been dried properly.

Pecans are usually stored shelled since they take up less space and can be conveniently used straight from the freezer. Unshelled pecans can be stored for a longer period than shelled nuts. The unbroken shell protects the kernel from bruising and offers protection against oxidation and rancidity of the kernel.

2012 Pecan Harvest at Little Eva Plantation

It is time to start picking up those tasty pecans that are grown here in the heart of Louisiana! The 2012 pecan crop looks great. Mark had planned to start picking the Candy variety on Monday but when he went to start the pecan shaker it would not make a sound. Further investigation revealed a burned out relay switch. Got the part this am, Mark installed it right after lunch, and off he went in search of Candy trees to shake!! Pecan harvesters will be running tomorrow. Filled pecan wagons should be headed to the cleaning plant sometime Thursday. We should have new crop pecans in the pecan house by the weekend – YES!!!

Antioxidants in Pecans and Heart Health and Disease Prevention

Antioxidants in Pecans May Contribute to Heart Health and Disease Prevention

ScienceDaily (Feb. 28, 2011) — A new research study from Loma Linda University (LLU) demonstrates that naturally occurring antioxidants in pecans may help contribute to heart health and disease prevention; the results were published in the January 2011 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.

Pecans contain different forms of the antioxidant vitamin E — known as tocopherols, plus numerous phenolic substances, many of them with antioxidant abilities. The nuts are especially rich in one form of vitamin E called gamma-tocopherols. The findings illustrate that after eating pecans, gamma-tocopherol levels in the body doubled and unhealthy oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood decreased by as much as 33 percent. Oxidized LDLs may further contribute to inflammation in the arteries and place people at greater risk of cardiovascular problems.

“Our tests show that eating pecans increases the amount of healthy antioxidants in the body,” says LLU researcher Ella Haddad, DrPH, associate professor in the School of Public Health department of nutrition. “This protective effect is important in helping to prevent development of various diseases such as cancer and heart disease.”

These findings are from a research project designed to further evaluate the health benefits of pecans, according to Dr. Haddad. She analyzed biomarkers in blood and urine samples from study participants (a total of 16 men and women between the ages 23 and 44) who ate a sequence of three diets composed of whole pecans, pecans blended with water, or a control meal of equivalent nutrient composition. The pecan meals contained about three ounces of the nut. Samples were taken prior to meals and at intervals up to 24 hours after eating.

Following the test meals composed of whole pecans and blended pecans, researchers found that amounts of gamma-tocopherols (vitamin E) in the body doubled eight hours after both meals, and oxygen radical absorbance capabilities (ORAC — a scientific method for measuring antioxidant power in the blood) increased 12 and 10 percent respectively two hours after the meals. In addition, following the whole-pecan meal, oxidized LDL cholesterol decreased by 30 percent (after 2 hours), 33 percent (after 3 hours), and 26 percent (after 8 hours).

“This study is another piece of evidence that pecans are a healthy food,” says Dr. Haddad. “Previous research has shown that pecans contain antioxidant factors. Our study shows these antioxidants are indeed absorbed in the body and provide a protective effect against diseases.”

Research from Loma Linda University published earlier in theJournal of Nutrition showed that a pecan-enriched diet lowered levels of LDL cholesterol by 16.5 percent — more than twice the American Heart Association’s Step I diet, which was used as the control diet in that study. Similarly, the pecan-enriched diet lowered total cholesterol levels by 11.3 percent (also twice as much as the Step I diet).

 

Story from http://www.llu.edu/

 

Natchitoches Pecans Hosts Fellow Pecan Growers at the 20l2 Tri-State Pecan Convention & Trade Show


Mark Swanson - 2012 Tri-State Pecan Convention & Trade Show

Mark Swanson
2012 Tri-State Pecan Convention & Trade Show

Family-run Natchitoches Pecans welcomes growers from Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, and performs demo of its cutting-edge pecan-sorting processes.

 

Natchitoches Pecans, Inc. recently participated in the Tri-State Pecan Convention & Trade Show, an annual meeting for pecan growers from Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana—and this year, the family owned and operated company hosted part of the show at its own orchard.

Growers come to this yearly convention for recommendations about fertilization, information on new products, and advice about what to look out for in the coming year. One of its features this year was a demonstration at the Natchitoches Pecans orchard, which utilizes a new machine from Savage Equipment that sorts in-shell pecans by color, automatically picking out the bad ones.

“One of the biggest attractions of the Tri-State Pecan Show is that it gives you an opportunity to see a different operation, and to get a different perspective on how to problem-solve and work through the issues you encounter as a pecan grower,” said Natchitoches Pecans co-owner Julie Swanson. “The sorting machinery we’ve implemented at our orchard has really improved our efficiency, so we were thrilled to get a chance to show other growers how it works.”

One hundred and sixty growers—the majority of the trade show’s attendees—attended the demonstration, which was followed by a catered barbecue lunch served in Natchitoches Pecans’ orchard.

The two-day show concluded the next day with the release of 2012’s first Pecan Crop estimate. Based on Tri-State Grower member input, the projection for the year is 265 million pounds—a number considered encouraging by experts, in view of the drought experienced by growers in the region last year.

Swanson was cheerful about Natchitoches Pecans’ prospects for the year. “We’ve had good pollination, and we’re happy with how things are shaping up this season,” she said. “So far so good!”
ABOUT NATCHITOCHES PECANS, INC.

Established in 1987, Natchitoches Pecans, Inc. is a family owned and operated pecan orchard. Mark Swanson sees to the everyday operations, his wife, Julie, takes care of Little Eva’s Pecan Store and the Internet and mail-order business, and their mothers, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews all help wherever needed. Natchitoches Pecans is proud to provide high-quality, gourmet Louisiana pecans for all of its customers. For more information, or to place an order online, visit www.natchitochespecans.com.

New Ecommerce Website For 2012

We would like to welcome you to our newly redesigned 2012 Natchitoches Pecans online ecommerce website.  Our secure website lets you view our products up close, read reviews, and get information about us and pecans.  Please give us feedback for our design team.

After you order our products and enjoy our deliciously fresh Louisiana pecans, please go to that product and write us a review.

We look forward to sending you some of the most delicious pecans in the United States.

Order Pecans Early For The Holidays

[Originally posted on November 23, 2011]

Don’t forget to order your delicious Louisiana pecans early this year so we have plenty of time to ship them to you before the holidays.  Our staff is working very hard to make sure all orders go out as soon as possible for your holiday enjoyment.

Thanks again for choosing Natchitoches Pecans for your holiday enjoyment!

Natchitoches Pecans Announces Beginning of Fall 2011 Harvest Season and Introduces New Praline Pecans

[Originally posted on October 13, 2011]

Natchitoches Pecans, Inc. announces beginning of Fall 2011 harvest season and introduces new Praline Pecans.

Family-run Natchitoches Pecans showcases this year’s superior crop with mouthwatering new line of gourmet glazed pecans.

Natchitoches Pecans, Inc. is happy to announce an early start to this year’s fall harvest season—about three weeks earlier than last year.

Though the past few months have been quite dry overall, Natchitoches Pecans’ 2011 crop looks to be better than the 2010 crop. “We were lucky enough to get ample rain at the critical times. Our trees have a good load of pecans from top to bottom,” said co-owner Julie Swanson.

This family owned and operated company has been hard at work in preparation for the upcoming harvest—picking up broken limbs in the orchard, bush hogging, and more—but the Swansons are already thinking about Thanksgiving and the winter holidays as well. To highlight what is promising to be an exceptional batch of pecans this fall, Natchitoches Pecans will be offering a new product for the holiday season: Praline Pecans.

Natchitoches Pecans’ traditional-style Praline Pecans are carefully coated with a sweet, melt-in-your-mouth glaze for a fresh and delicious taste that can rival even the best New Orleans pralines. Whether eaten on their own, crumbled on top of ice cream, or chopped up and baked into homemade cookies, these gourmet pecans are sure to be a hit at any special occasion or holiday event this year.

The Natchitoches Pecans family prides itself on not only on the high quality of its products but the personalized service it offers to every customer as a small business. If you’re looking to make your holiday gift shopping easy, simply provide the Swansons with your list of addresses, and they’ll take care of the rest—they’ll even include a card with your special greeting in each box. But don’t wait too long to do it: “Demand is going be high this year,” said Swanson, “so we’re encouraging our customers to get their orders in early!”

Established in 1987, Natchitoches Pecans, Inc. is a family owned and operated pecan orchard. Mark Swanson sees to the everyday operations, his wife, Julie, takes care of Little Eva’s Pecan Store and the mail-order business, and their mothers, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews all help wherever needed. Natchitoches Pecans is proud to provide high-quality, gourmet Louisiana pecans for all of its customers. For more information, or to place an order online, visit www.natchitochespecans.com.

Pecan Trees, Squirrels & Crows

[Originally posted on September 22, 2011]

Not only does a pecan grower monitor disease and insect pests to protect his pecan crop year in and year out, he also has to monitor crows and squirrels.

Squirrels start damaging pecans as they are sizing up in late July and early August and throughout harvest. According to the University of Florida, it has been estimated that one tiny squirrel can easily consume 50 pounds of nuts per year. These pesky critters hoard and bury up to two pounds of pecans per day not caring if the nuts are green or immature. Squirrels also damage delicate twigs, limbs and foliage of the pecan trees. Some people utilize live traps to trap and relocate the squirrels, but we find that declaring “war” on squirrels during hunting season is the most effective. Squirrels make good GUMBO!

One can always tell when the pecans are ready to harvest by noticing when the crows show up. One crow can damage up to fifteen pounds of pecans per month. Crows are very intelligent birds and can be quite a challenge to control. We have hung dead crows from pecan trees to discourage their buddies from returning to that area. Those hanging crows are what we call “CROW ORNAMENTS“. We have also used propane propelled devises that go off periodically resembling the sound of a gun. This works for a short while until the crows get used to it.

Riding through the orchard one can see many squirrels running below the trees and many crows flying above the trees so it is time to get prepared for the “WAR“!

Mid July 2011

[Originally posted on July 25, 2011]

Last week we got a couple of showers in the pecan orchard.  Over an inch on one day and then about a half inch the next day.  Pecans are continuing to size up nicely.  As always there are always a few limbs that break so limb picking up is a continuous process.  Crows and squirrels seem to be showing up more and more so we will need to get our plan together as to how to take care of those pesky varmits.

Company News July 2011

[Originally posted on July 1, 2011]

There appears to be a good nut set on the trees this season.  However, even with a good nut set water is so critical for pecan trees .  We have been in a drought cycle this spring with only a few showers.  Last week we finally received some substantial rainfall – a total a four inches over a period of two to three days.  Seems like overnight the grass under the trees turned from brown to green.  The tiny nutlets are increasing in size daily.  With the temperatures in the upper 90′s and low 100′s we will need more rain in the next couple of weeks.  Mark is getting ready to spray for second generation casebearer.  He will also include a fungicide for scab.

We attended the annual Tri-State Pecan Growers meeting in Bossier City mid June.  It was great to catch up with fellow pecan growers and get up to date information on new products for insect and disease control in the pecan orchard.  As always there is still plenty to do at this “NUT FARM”!  That is all for now as it is time to go check on the guys that are picking up limbs.