What a time of year for the current development of the pecan! As you may realize and experience yourself, when October comes around, it is most welcome. The cooler days tend to give that extra motivation, that sense of “Hey, it’s not so bad being out here today.” The cooler weather motivates us to get out in the field and observe the pecans’ development during this time and may even raise a question in some of our minds. A question perhaps about that large, green shell, protecting and nourishing the pecan nut.
Yes, I am speaking of the shuck.
Some may also call it a husk. But what is it doing this time of year? What causes it to gradually split open, dry up, and allow the fruit to fall from the tree?
The first sign that pecan ripening has begun is when the shuck starts to pull away from the shell near the tip of the nut. In time, shuck separation moves downwards towards the base of the nut. As the shuck separates, the shell starts to develop rich, brown-colored markings on its white shell surface.
In our pecan orchard we are now seeing the shuck separation or “split”.
It has been such a dry year; the shuck was remaining closed and not allowing the pecan to effectively mature and dry. It seems that it would be just the opposite and would have been drying earlier, right? Not necessarily! The shuck is in a sense, the “mother’s womb” of that pecan and the pecan is the baby. The shuck is where the nut grows, gets its nutrients, and does all its development. So “in a nutshell” that pecan has been protected and nourished by the shuck which is nourished by the tree during all the dry season that we’ve had! Now that we had our weather event of moisture and cooling temperatures the shuck has split and now those pecans can begin to mature, getting us gradually closer to that much anticipated Harvest!