The Story of Pecans

“Pecans” are not a fabrication of science labs, or a newly franchised food factory product. Their popularity can be traced back to early American Indian lore.

In prehistoric terms, the earlier development of what we know today as “Louisiana” would have placed the shores of the Gulf of Mexico as far north as mid state! The mighty Mississippi delta outlet originally built the familiar “boot” shape of Louisiana, the “Pelican State,” or the “Sportsman’s Paradise.”

Along with the driven waters of this massive valley came a curious mixture of sand, mud and silt that emptied into this rich, fertile delta. The constantly building land mass was subject to not only the Mississippi River, but to the Red River (named for the red dirt that colored its content) and Atchafalaya River, which today makes up one of our vast, most treasured national wildlife refuges. But let’s go back now to our treasured pecan!

South central forest distributions contain a wide variety of mixed hard wood trees that include the delectable pecan, which prefers the drained upper lands of this region. Their roots absorb the rich nutrients left by river overflows and rich, natural supplements. Then how, you might ask, if there are so many pecan trees around the Deep South, do they seem to flourish in such numbers and varieties? Give that distinction to our indigenous animal friends. A late fall season in Louisiana will most often reveal birds and squirrels foraging for the nutritious nutty delicacies to support their families through the damp Louisiana winter months! The rustle of pecan limbs reveal fluttering, rather noisy Blue Jays, and both numerous and curious squirrels that poke the hard crusted pecan jewels into the ground for their winter forage. Those shells forgotten in the winter “harvest” grow up in the summer soil in which they were originally “planted.”

It did not take long for the human element to organize early plantings of vast pecan groves. More select varieties of pecan farming and modern packaging and transportation became familiar to generations of admirers. These same groves of prime Louisiana pecan trees continue to produce luscious pecan halves that feed the fancies of Louisiana natives, and delight those who share in this traditional holiday treat!