How To Harvest Pecans

If you live in the south of America, you may be lucky enough to grow pecan trees. As pecan trees are only grown within the southern states of America, this can make them quite expensive to purchase and worth the extra effort needed to harvest pecans correctly.

To harvest pecans successfully, a few steps are required, from picking pecans at the right time to ensuring they spend long enough drying.

But this long process is worthwhile to help not only save money but enjoy the fresh, full flavor of pecans you’ve grown yourself.

Keep on reading so you can find out how to harvest pecans properly so that they last longer and remain fresh.

harvest pecans

When is the Best Time for Harvesting Pecans?

Pecans grow on pecan trees and start to fall naturally in September. They fall anywhere up to November and will appear light brown with dark-striped nuts.

Pecans fall before they are ready to be eaten. The key to ensuring your pecans are edible, is to be patient and allow them to dry fully.

When pecans fall, the nuts are still soft and still developing. However, the pecans can be harvested during this time between September and November so long as you do not try to consume them right away.

What is the Process of Harvesting Pecans?

When pecans start to fall from the trees, it is time to start preparing for the harvest.

First, it is important to check the condition of the pecans you pick. They should still be intact with complete shells surrounding the nut. If the husk has broken and is black, it is likely that those pecans are rotten and should be thrown rather than consumed. If however, the husk is green, it means the pecans aren’t yet ripe.

harvesting pecans

Ideally, pick the pecans that have most recently fallen. These will be less likely to be damaged and won’t have started rotting.

One thing to look out for is wormholes. These are quite common in pecans but damage the nuts and make them inedible. Any pecans you find with wormholes need to be discarded.

As edible pecans are easy to miss due to their coloration, it can be a good idea to place a piece of fabric under the tree. You can then shake the pecan tree to encourage more pecans to fall. Pecans usually fall under the tree canopy, so will land on your fabric and be easier to spot.

Collect all of the healthy pecans and take them inside in order to sort them. This will give you a second chance to double-check the pecans you have harvested to ensure they are ripe and not damaged.

For the pecans you will be keeping, they need drying for up to 10 days before they can be stored. Pecans contain moisture that, if not managed, can lead to your pecans becoming moldy.

To store your pecans, remove the remaining husks and lay them on a cool, dry surface with good ventilation.


Once they are dry, test a couple of pecans to confirm they are ready for storage. To do this, remove the shell and snap a couple of pecans in half. If they have a clean, crisp snap, they are dry and can be stored. If not, leave the pecans to dry for a couple more days.

When storing your pecans, you can store them either dry or in the freezer. Dry pecans can be stored with their shells intact for several months in a cool, dry place.

To freeze your pecans, you need to remove the shells and place the pecans in a sealed container in the freezer. Pecans can be frozen for up to a year.

Make sure to not throw away the husks or shells. These are not dangerous to the environment and can be added to your compost.

Following these steps will enable you to enjoy pecans throughout the year before the next pecan harvest takes place. As pecan trees often provide an abundance of pecans, you can easily dry and freeze these to use between November and September whilst your pecan trees are growing the next harvest.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat pecans straight from the tree?

If the pecan’s husk is green then these cannot be eaten as the nuts haven’t ripened yet. However, those that are light brown and do not have any signs of rotting or wormholes, can be eaten.

Do pecans need to dry before shelling?

Yes, it is best to dry pecans before removing their shells. This helps provide extra time for any underripe pecan to ripen.

What month do pecans fall off the tree?

Pecan nuts begin to fall in September. They can be harvested from then until the middle of November. If you still have pecans left on the tree, the tree can be shaken to remove loose pecans before winter sets in.

How do you know when a pecan is ready to eat?

Pecans are ready to eat when the husk turns from green to light brown. After they have been dried, you need to test a pecan or two. Remove the shell from the pecan and break the pecan in half. If it snaps when broken, your pecans are ready to eat.

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