By Stephen Brueggerhoff, CEA – Horticulture; Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Galveston County AgriLife Extension is celebrating fall in fine tradition, hosting the 2023 Galveston County Pecan Show. The Show is an opportunity to celebrate pecan culture and bring attention to the health benefits of our native nut. Open to backyard growers and commercial producers, we are accepting samples now until Wednesday, December 6, 2023. There is no fee for entry, non-mixed varieties with 40 nuts per submission must be delivered to 4102-B Main Street, La Marque in Carbide Park during operating office hours. Our team will judge classic and new division, commercial and native division, announcing show winners during Gulf Coast Gardening Seminar Going Nuts for Pecans Saturday, December 9. We will send winning samples forward to a regional pecan show this coming January, and all state regional winners will compete at the Texas Pecan Growers Annual Conference and Trade Show in July 2024. For rules and entry information, browse online to our website: https://galveston.agrilife.org/horticulture/.
Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) trees have played a significant role as part of our ancient and contemporary southern culture. They are a member of the Hickory Plant Family and are indigenous to southern North America and northern Mexico. Pecan is dedicated as the state tree of Texas by legislature in 1919, and historically pecans were not commercially grown until the 1880s and with the advent of improved varieties. Commercial production is now a global effort, with the United States producing an estimated 80% of the world’s pecans from Georgia, Texas, and New Mexico at cumulative 300 million pounds per year.
For home cultivation, pecan trees can be planted annually as bare root from December through March. Consider their flowering structure when choosing a variety: they produce separate male and female flowers on the same plant (monoecious). Male flowers are produced on catkins and pollen dispersal is by wind. Female flowers are produced at the tips of emerging shoots. Varieties are described as Type I, those shedding pollen before the female flowers are receptive, and Type II varieties are shed after the female flowers are receptive. While some varieties are described as ‘self-pollinating,’ it is always best to consider planting both types of trees in your orchard to enhance the chance of adequate cross-pollination.
There is an estimate that over 500 varieties have been developed to date, with a handful of varieties that are appropriate for commercial production dependent on regional climate and environmental conditions. Texas A&M Aggie Horticulture provides a regional map indicating pecan varieties that perform well in one third of our state. Cheyenne, Desirable, Caddo, Forkert and Kiowa are just a few of the named varieties recommended for our region. Desirable is a Type I scab resistant variety, producing a medium sized nut with a soft shell and ripening in late October. You may wish to increase your chance for production by planting a late pollen shedding variety like Choctaw. Choctaw produces large and long nuts with thin shells. Forkert is another Type II variety, producing a large nut with thin shell.
We invite you to enter the 2023 Galveston County Pecan Show whether collecting front yard pecans for sharing with family and friends or earnestly cultivating nuts for profit. Learn about best practices for cultivating home and commercial pecans through articles published by Aggie Horticulture. For rules and entry information, as well as links to Aggie Horticulture best practices, browse online to our website: https://galveston.agrilife.org/horticulture/. Be well and prosper, and I will see you in the garden.