2015 Pecan Harvest Begins

Our pecan orchard is in warp speed this time of year gathering our fresh Louisiana pecans signifying the start of the  2015 pecan harvest at Little Eva Plantation.  Within the last previous two to three weeks the orchard floor has been cleaned of many broken limbs clearing the ground beneath each tree which enable the pecan harvesters

Pecan harvester picking pecans at Little Eva Plantation.

Pecan harvester picking pecans at Little Eva Plantation.

to not miss a pecan as these machines go around and around each tree gathering nuts beneath the trees.  Each variety is  typically harvested  individually. – Candy variety is an earlier maturing nut and is usually always harvested first.  Then comes Elliott, Desirable, Branch, Stuart, Caddo, Sumner and Melrose.

When the pecan harvester’s bin is full, the nuts are dumped into a pecan wagon.

Pecan wagon loaded and ready to head to the cleaning plant.

Pecan wagon loaded and ready to head to the cleaning plant.

Next stop is the cleaning plant.  Once the filled pecan wagon arrives at the cleaning plant, the nuts are dumped into a pit and are then carried by conveyors and various elevators up and down and around and through the dirt machine where dirt clods and large sticks and other debris are removed and blown into our trash trailer.   Next the pecans make their way to the Savage in-shell color sorter.  Savage Sorters employ high-resolution color cameras and highly specialized color-sorting software to identify and separate stick-tight nuts and other light debris. In a split second the machine uses a small blast of air to separate them out from the good-product flow. The sorting criteria is completely adjustable on the simple-to-use touch-screen computer terminal. Even novice computer users can learn the simple tasks involved.  After color sorting, the pecans proceed to the Savage pecan sizer where they are sized and then bagged in bulk bags and labeled as to variety, size, date of harvest, and what section of orchard the bagged pecans came from.  Filled super bags are then moved into the warehouse.  Next week I will blog about the cracking and shelling process.

 

 

 

Preparing for Pecan Harvest

In just a short few weeks pecan harvest will begin at Little Eva Plantation.  There are many tasks to be completed prior to the familiar site of our orange Savage pecan harvesters circling around and under the pecan trees.

Picking pecans with pecan harvester.

Picking pecans with pecan harvester.

Our workers are continually picking up limbs throughout the growing season and taking them to what we call “master piles”.  At the beginning of each growing season,  we try and locate an empty area to start a limb pile as we know that this pile will continue to enlarge as limbs that have fell from wind damage, lightning, or pruning practices are added to it throughout the spring and summer months.

"Master" pile of pecan limbs

“Master” pile of pecan limbs

These piles will be burned after the harvesting is done and after the trees have shed all their leaves from fall frosts.  If the piles were burned before the trees have lost their leaves, it would be a high probability that the heat from the burning limb piles could damage the leaves of the surrounding trees.  It is important to maintain healthy foliage well into fall as the trees are storing energy for the next years pecan crop.

After the large limbs are moved, a limb rake is pulled up each row of trees to gather up small limbs and debris.  Guess this is like “sweeping” the floor – the orchard floor.  This completed brings on the mowing with the bush hog.  Once bush hogging is finished the orchard floor looks perfectly clean, neat, and tidy.

Now it’s time for the pecan harvesting equipment to be inspected and serviced so as to try and prevent unnecessary breakdowns as it is very critical that harvest be completed as quickly as possible.  The tractors, pecan harvesters, and the pecan shaker are gone over with a fine tooth comb.  Tires are checked on the pecan wagons and any dry rotted or flat tires are replaced or repaired.

Pecan Shaker maintenance

Pecan Shaker maintenance

Pecan wagon loaded

Pecan wagon loaded

 

On to the warehouse to check out all the dump pits, elevators, dirt machine, stick machine, various electric motors, air compressors, the Savage In-Shell sorter, pecan cracker, and pecan sheller.  As one can see it is much preparation that goes into getting prepared for each year’s pecan harvest.

 

Start of 2014 Pecan Crop

Time flies as they say and if you are a pecan grower time travels at warp speed!  Our 2013 pecan harvest was very good.  The weather was decent which enabled us to get our pecan crop into the warehouse in a timely manner.  Our walk-in pecan store retail business was very brisk and our mail order business showed a substantial increase in sales.  The first two months of 2014 were very busy as this is the time when I dig out from under my stacks of paperwork, compile figures for the accountant, reflect on the recent business year, and access what our plan for the current year will consist of.

Who would have thought that Little Eva Plantation would see snow on four different occasions within the last six weeks.  It will only be a few short weeks before pecan bud break.  Our orchard crew is busy picking up limbs, cutting down any dead or diseased pecan trees, and burning the piles of limbs.  We will be pruning the young trees that were planted last year and have around 100 new trees that will need to be planted this year…as always lots, lots, and more to do at this Nut Farm!

 

 

Peak Season for Pecan Harvest

Natchitoches Pecans’ crew is working fast and furious harvesting our new crop fresh pecans. We are in peak harvest season. This is the time of year when fresh pecans are in high demand for all the holiday cooking that is just ahead. Pecan pie, pecan pralines, chocolate covered pecans, cinnamon pecans, pecan logs, roasted pecans, divinity…these are just a small sampling of what fresh pecans go in for delicious treats to be shared by all. The pecan crackers run most all day to keep up with our orders coming in via phone, mail or walk in retail customers. There is no rest this time of year and we tell all that come in the NUTHOUSE – “We grow nuts, spray the nuts, pick the nuts, clean the nuts, bag the nuts, crack the nuts, shell the nuts, eat the nuts, cook with the nuts, heck we are all just really nutty!” Pecans make the perfect gift anytime of the year but are especially great for holiday giving. Please get your order in early to assure timely delivery. Visit our website www.natchitochespecans.com and order your fresh pecan gifts today! All for now…gotta go bag some more pecans.

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!!!