Pecan leaves have turned golden yellow and are starting to fall from the trees (photo above). Our pecan shakers are all greased up and the broken fingers in our pecan harvesters have been replaced. In short, we are all ready to start the 2011 harvest season but the nuts just aren't ready yet.
Even though most shucks have been split for several weeks now, we still have too many green shucks to start harvest (photo at right). We could shake our trees today and the harvester would beat off the green shucks but the harvested nuts would be full of moisture. Wet nuts turn into moldy nuts and we can't afford to degrade the quality of the crop just because we are anxious to get the harvest started.
If you pull off one of the green shucks, you can actually see moisture trapped between the nut and shuck (photo below right). A pecan will not dry completely until the shuck has turn dark brown and lost all its moisture. A good hard freeze (26 degrees F or below) is what we really need. Cold temepratures would kill the remaining green tissues in the shuck and allow both shuck and nut to dry quickly.