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About California Pecans

Pecan, the only native nut in the U.S., is commercially grown in 14 states across the country. The trees are of two basic types; native or seedling, and improved varieties. Native pecans are varieties that developed under natural conditions, usually growing wild along river-bottom areas. Seedling pecans are of the same parentage but are produced from seed (nut) and have not been budded or grafted. Improved pecans are varieties that have been genetically altered through breeding and grafting to produce more nuts, and better quality nutmeat than natives or seedlings.

Primary California producing areas are located in the same areas as other nut crops, from Chico-Orland area in the north to Bakersfield in the south. Limited production is found as far south as San Diego County, and in the southeast desert areas of the state. Pecans are much more tolerant of heavy soils and spring frost than other nut crops, hence the diverse growing area.

The first commercial pecan orchards in California were planted in the mid 1970’s in the Visalia-Clovis area. Planting slowed in the 1980’s along with other nut crops in the state. Production suffered in the early 1990’s resulting in the removal of several pecan orchards in California. In the mid late 1990’s a resurgence of plantings began in the Sacramento valley, as rice and other crops became unprofitable. New plantings continue in other parts of the state as well.

Since that time, California pecan production has increased to its largest crop ever at 3.7 million pounds in 2001, on approximately 2800 acres. California orchards have had their highest production per acre for the last three years, breaking all records for 3-year production across the U.S. Most of this is due to new orchard practices implemented in the late 1990’s including crop thinning, hedging, and the registration of new pesticides to control aphids. California is now the 7th largest of 14 pecan producing states, based on the last five years production. New orchards are being planted every year, but much more limited than in the 1970’s.
Copyright 2016 by California Pecan Growers Association