Plant Answers  >  Pecans Equal Good Health and Good Eating

Pecans Equal Good Health and Good Eating

Pecan Beetle

Dr. Larry Stein explains pecan grafting in one of many demonstrations he conducts throughout the state

Cracked in-shell and shelled Stein Pecans

Shelled Stein Pecans

Farm dogs love shelled pecans

Larry Stein has his sons help harvest pecans as they jump for the nuts from their trampoline in 2004

It must be pecan harvesting time in South Texas because I am already getting telephone calls at home from people wanting that "special" pecan I introduced to the market in December, 2004. Dr. Larry Stein, Texas A&M Extension Horticulturist wrote about his Alsatian family' pecan in the article at: He wrote: "Over the years my family identified trees that they would harvest for their own use because of the outstanding qualities of the tree and nut. Today, we propagate one which they considered to be their very best-- i.e., Das ist die Guet!, meaning this is the "good!" in the Alsatian language. Three such Guets were identified, but only this one was propagated and today it is simply known as the "Guet". This pecan shells in perfect halves at 53 to 56 percent kernel; has very wide dorsal (upper) grooves and little if any ventral groove; ranges in size from 65 to 70 nuts per pound and has an awesome flavor. One drawback to the nut is that it turns dark fairly quickly, presumably from the high oil content!"

If you are interested in seeing how these nuts are actually
harvested and have a fast speed modum, go to:


The older generation literally "went nuts" after hearing they could purchase shelled kernels of a superior, "oily" native pecan which was selected by the Stein family over 100 years ago. These are the pecans older citizens remember harvesting and eating when they were children. People are demanding more product so these shelled nuts will be available again this year ONLY at Milberger's Nursery (3920 North Loop 1604 East - at the corner of Bulverde Road & Loop 1604) while Dr. Calvin Finch and I are doing the Milberger's Garden Show live on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on KLUP Radio (AM 930) For more information and to have your gardening questions answered during show hours, call 210-308-8867 or 1-866-308-8867. You can listen to the program live on the Internet by going to: during show hours.

How much will they cost per pound of shelled kernels? Dr. George Ray McEachern, retired pecan specialist with Texas A&M Cooperative Extension sets the price in this wonderful article he wrote about pecan production. He states: " Pecan kernels at $5 a pound are a great buy, plus they not only taste great, they make everything they are added to taste better." Then he continues to explain the production of pecans:

"When it comes to getting the job done, pecans are as efficient as any plant on earth. For years many felt the pecan tree - via photosynthesis and all of the metabolic pathways within its foliage - failed to measure up when compared to other crops. The big deal now is how well does a plant measure up with a given volume of water. Can pecan compete?"

"Walnuts can bear up to four tons per acre, grapes can bear up to 10 tons per acre, cabbage and spinach 10 tons, Irish potatoes 25 tons, and carrots, watermelons, and tomatoes all can bear up to 30 tons per acre. But these products are mostly water. Since pecans are mostly oil (up to 70 percent mono-unsaturated oil), the pecan is very efficient."

"Moving water from to the soil to the fruit is no big deal; but making pecan oil via the fatty acid cycle is a very difficult but efficient process. I would say it is like comparing 100 pounds of iron to one pound of gold -- which would you rather have?"

"Unfortunately, the public does not recognize how nutritious the pecan is and how hard the tree has to work to produce it."

"Growers must also work with the pecan tree to maximize the potential of the pecan. The public needs to know pecans require deep, well-drained fertile soil which also needs irrigation up to 60 inches per year, 100 pounds of actual nitrogen fertilizer applied throughout the spring and early summer, up to five foliar zinc sprays, protection from insects and disease, light into the canopy via wide spacing or hedging, trunk shaking in July and August to reduce over cropping, weed control to optimize water and nutrients, and avoiding any and all stress in August and September to obtain complete shuck opening and early nut harvest. Once the pecan shucks open, growers must shake the tree and harvest the kernels as soon as possible to prevent the kernels from turning dark."

"The nuts must then be dried from 20 percent moisture down to less than six percent so the taste and nutrient quality of the kernels is complete. Once purchased, consumers should store the pecans frozen to protect the quality."

"Few crops have so many factors influencing their tonnage and quality. In addition to these, the cultivar and climate with all its variations play a major role in establishing pecan yield and quality. Few foods are produced with greater work than the pecan and its growers."

Then to make you feel really good about: "Pecan kernels at $5 a pound being a great buy", nuts are listed as number seven in Top 10 Amazing Disease-Fighting Foods in a recent article on the popular WebMD Internet site. Here are excerpts from the article:

"They are a dietitian's dream foods, the cream of the crop, nutritious and delicious. They are foods that should be in everyone's kitchen because they contain such a wealth of disease-fighting substances.

"So put these 10 readily- available foods on your grocery list today - but do keep in mind that it takes more than 10 foods (even 10 terrific foods!) to make a healthy diet. Experts are quick to point out that variety is the spice of life. And ideally these nutritious nibbles should replace other, less healthful, foods -- helping you to cut calories while boosting the nutrition in your diet.

Top 10 Amazing Foods

1. Berries- Reach for berries for a powerful dose of
health -protecting antioxidants.
2. Dairy -- Dairy foods are not only the best food
source of dietary calcium, but also have plenty of protein, vitamins
(including vitamin D), and minerals.
3. Fatty Fish -- The fat found in fish like salmon and
tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help protect your heart.
4. Dark, Leafy Greens -- Dark, leafy greens everything
from spinach, kale, and bok choy to dark lettuces are loaded with
vitamins, minerals, beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate, iron, magnesium,
carotenoids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants.
5. Whole Grains - Whole grains contain folic acid,
selenium, and B vitamins, and are important to heart health, weight
control, and reducing the risk of diabetes.
6. Beans and Legumes - These nutritious nuggets are
packed with phytochemicals; fat -free, high-quality protein; folic acid;
fiber; iron; magnesium; and small amounts of calcium.
7. Nuts - Nuts are full of fats. But they're the
healthy, mono- and polyunsaturated kind, which can help lower
cholesterol levels and help prevent heart disease. In addition, nuts are
a good source of protein, fiber, selenium, vitamin E, and vitamin A.
Small portions of nuts can boost energy and beat hunger, helping dieters
stay on track. Still, nuts pack plenty of calories -- and it's easy to
overeat these tasty treats. So enjoy nuts, but be mindful of your
portion size. Try to limit yourself to an ounce a day. That's about 28
peanuts, 14 pecan halves, or just 7 Brazil nuts.
8. Sweet Potatoes
9. Tomatoes
10. Eggs

See the full article at:


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