Native Pecan Trees in a Pecan Bottom

The Journey of a Pecan on a Tree: From Sapling to Harvest

Pecan Orchards

At Millican Pecan Company, we've been dedicated to growing the finest pecans since 1888. Nestled in San Saba, Texas, the Journey of a Pecan on a Tree: From Sapling to Harvest, the pecan capital of the world, our rich history and deep-rooted expertise ensure that every pecan on our trees reaches its full potential. Understanding how pecan trees grow not only enriches our appreciation for these nutritious nuts but also highlights the meticulous care involved in producing each pecan.

The Life Cycle of a Pecan Tree

Pecan trees, known scientifically as Carya illinoinensis, are a type of hickory tree native to North America. The journey of a pecan on a tree begins with the planting of a seed or a grafted sapling. Pecans are typically grown from grafted trees to ensure the best quality nuts. These young trees require well-drained soil, plenty of sunlight, and sufficient water to thrive.  Nursey trees are the best way to establish a pecan orchard.  The pecan trees are either container-grown or have bare roots.  Container-grown pecan trees can be planted in most months except the hot part of the summer.  The cons of them are that the roots can become root-bound and not form a solid tap root.  Bare-root pecan trees need to be planted while dormant.  They are less expensive than container trees but do equally well when properly maintained. 

Newly Planted Pecan Trees

Pecan Tree Early Years

In the first few years, a pecan tree focuses on establishing a strong root system. This period is crucial for its long-term health and productivity. During these formative years, the tree needs consistent watering, protection from pests, and sometimes support from stakes to grow straight and strong. As the tree matures, it begins to develop its distinctive broad canopy, providing ample shade and starting to show signs of flowering.

Blossoming and Pollination

Pecan trees are unique in their flowering and pollination process. They produce separate male and female flowers, often on the same tree. The male flowers, known as catkins, release pollen that the wind carries to the female flowers, or pistillate flowers. This wind-pollination process is essential for the development of pecans.

Pecan Tree Catkins on a Pecan Tree Branch

Nut Development

Early Season Pecan Nuts on Tree

Once pollinated, the female flowers begin the transformation into pecans. Throughout the summer months, the nuts grow and develop, encased in a green husk. Inside, the kernel forms, accumulating the nutrients that give pecans their rich, buttery flavor. By early fall, the husk starts to split open, revealing the mature pecans inside.

Late Season Pecan Tree Nuts

Orchard-Grown vs. Native Pecans

At Millican Pecan Company, our pecan trees are meticulously planted in rows within orchards. This method allows for optimal spacing, sunlight exposure, and efficient management practices. Each tree in the orchard is carefully tended to, ensuring that the pecans on each tree receive the best care from budding to harvest.  The taste of these improved papershell pecan nuts varies from variety to variety due to the oil content of the nuts.


In contrast, we also have native pecans grow randomly in their natural habitats. These trees are often found near rivers and streams, where the soil is rich and water is plentiful. While native pecans may not be as systematically spaced as orchard-grown trees, they contribute to the biodiversity and natural beauty of the landscape. The pecans from these trees are often smaller but packed with intense flavor, a testament to their rugged and natural upbringing.  The taste of these wild nuts is rich and nutty in flavor.

Random Spaced Pecan Trees in San Saba River Bottom

Harvesting the Pecans

Harvesting pecans is a labor-intensive process that typically occurs in late fall. For orchard-grown trees, mechanical shakers are often used to gently shake the trees, causing the ripe pecans to fall to the ground.

Shaking Pecan Nuts from Pecan Trees in Early Fall
Pecan Nut Tree Harvest in Central Texas

These nuts are then collected, cleaned, and sorted, ready to be transformed into the delicious treats Millican Pecan Company is known for.

The Importance of Sustainable Practices

Sustainability is at the heart of our pecan-growing practices. We employ techniques that promote the health of our trees and the environment. From using organic fertilizers to implementing integrated pest management for pecans, we strive to produce high-quality pecans while preserving the natural resources of San Saba for future generations.

Enjoying the Fruits of Our Labor

The journey of a pecan on a tree is a testament to nature's wonder and the dedication of farmers. From the moment a sapling is planted to the day the pecans are harvested, countless hours of care and attention are invested in each nut. When you enjoy a Millican pecan, you're not just tasting a delicious snack; you're experiencing a piece of our heritage and the culmination of over a century of expertise.

Pecan Nut Products

At Millican Pecan Company, we take pride in every step of this journey, ensuring that the pecans on our trees are the finest you can find. Whether you savor them raw, roasted, or incorporated into our delectable treats, you're enjoying the fruits of a time-honored tradition that started with a single pecan on a tree.

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