There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven — A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
As the new year begins, we’re moving out of fall and into winter. We’re also finishing up our recent harvest season. Pecan harvest season usually begins in November, when the sights, sounds, and scents of fall are first awakening. The wind begins to chill, the leaves are beautifully strewn on the ground, and the ever-present smell of firewood is mingled in with the air. Then the first pecan falls from its roost high up in the trees, and here is where we begin our busiest season at the pecan farm.
The first step of the harvest process is shaking. We don’t have time or patience to wait for each pecan to fall by itself, so we speed up the process with a shaker. The shaker shakes the trees and brings a rainfall of pecans down on the orchard. Our favorite fall forecast!
Next comes the sweeper. The sweeper moves down each row of trees sweeping fallen pecans to one side. A leaf vacuum follows closely behind to pick up light debris from the pile of swept pecans and redistribute it under the trees for decomposition. The last mechanical step in the harvest process is, of course, the harvester. The harvester is a big vacuum with rubber fingers. It sweeps the pecans up and deposits them back into a trailer in order to be hauled to the Cleaning Plant.
The rest of the harvesting process is continued by equipment in the Cleaning Plant, employees on staff, and a whole lot of elbow grease! First, any leftover sticks and trash are removed. Next, the pecans are given a water bath and dried. Then the sorting process begins.
Pecan quality is rated on a scale that can go from grade one to grade four, depending on how picky the pecan farmers want to be. Number one is always the best, premium grade pecans. Any pecan labeled as a three or below must be tossed, as they are not considered edible. We examine the quality of the pecan meat, color, shell, and size. Here at Royalty Pecans, we only keep pecans that are labeled as a number one grade. Our pecans have full kernels, or meat, inside the shell. Pecans that are labeled a two are usually smaller and more dry, so they are often sold to a wholesale buyer. Some of our inshell pecans are shipped to a sheller near Dallas, Texas, where the pecans are shelled, cleaned, and sorted into halves and pieces.
We hope you have a chance to visit our gift shop near Bryan/College Station, Texas, and sample some of our pecans as well as our signature Pecan Delicacies. You can also hop on one of our orchard tours and see the orchard for yourself! We host guided tours every Saturday throughout the year. Check our calendar for other events and more details.