At Knight Pecan Farms, we take pride in our meticulous pecan harvesting techniques. With nearly 40 years of experience and a commitment to quality, we’ve honed our methods to maximize crop yield and ensure that only the finest pecans make it to your hands.
Active Farming and Crop Load Management
One of the critical factors early on in a great pecan harvest is crop load management. This intentional pecan tree thinning involves carefully monitoring and controlling the number of pecans on each tree to maximize nut size, quality, and overall production.
In July and August, we use specialized machinery designed to gently vibrate the tree trunks to reduce their weight, knocking off about half the crop to give our trees renewed energy. By thinning the crop, we allow the remaining pecans to get more sunlight, nutrients, and airflow, resulting in meatier, healthier nuts.
While crop load management sounds like a simple shake of the tree, it requires a willingness and ability to properly evaluate every tree on the farm. If not properly managed, a pecan tree can overproduce for the season, resulting in relatively low pecan production over the next few years. By removing the excess fruit load, we’re able to ensure consistent and high-quality harvests.
Our Irrigation System
Pecan trees require a good amount of water to produce large, well-filled pecans. At Knight Pecan Farms, we use high-quality irrigation systems that span the farm to ensure all of our trees are happy and healthy. At one point in the late 80s, we actually had the largest irrigated farm in the state of Oklahoma. While this system requires a lot of maintenance, we are more than willing to spend the time necessary to care for our land and trees.
“We’re farming acres of pecans, but we’re farming individual trees. I look out through all these trees and I have memories of almost every one of these trees individually. There’s lots of love. A lot more water, but lots of love.”
– Daniel Knight
When are Pecans Harvested?
The key to producing some of the finest pecans on the market is growing and harvesting around the pecans’ schedule rather than our own. Typically, pecan fall as the seasons change from summer to fall. We are constantly evaluating our crop and harvest our pecans in October when the leaves are still on the trees.
How to Harvest a Pecan Tree
At Knight Pecan, we take pride in our pecan harvesting process. Once we decide the pecans are ready to be harvested on their time, we’ll go through the orchard shaking each tree individually to get the nuts of the trees. After that, we’ll sweep them up into windrows to naturally dry in the sunshine.
Finally, our pecan harvester will pick them up off the ground, transferring them to the barn for their first cleaning. On a good day, we can pick 25,000 pounds of pecans.
How are Pecans Cleaned?
Our pecans’ first cleaning is through the process of air separation, where a fan blows out any trash or leaves. From here, the pecans head for our de-stoner that will wash the pecans off and remove any remaining rocks or debris picked up by the harvester.
After this, the pecans head for our inspection table where bad pecans are handpicked and removed from the crop before moving on to the sacking bin to dry out. Each sack holds 1,000-2,000 pounds of pecans.
Next in line for the pecans is a ride to the cleaning plant where they undergo a sanitizing process to ensure all our nuts are safe for consumption. Once sanitized, the pecans are dropped into a super sack for another drying process. The goal is to maintain a 4-5% moisture level to reach ideal stability and crackability for the nut meat.
While some farms may shell their own pecans, we send ours off to nearby shelling plants and let the experts take over. Before the pecans are shelled, the shellers will dip the pecans into hot water baths to kill any food borne illnesses before a final drying stage. After that they run our pecans through their shelling plant and get them all cleaned up.
From here, we’ll pick up our pecans and keep them at a shelf-stabilizing temperature before they come fresh from the farm to your local farmers’ market or front door.
We take pride in the care, quality control and love that goes into producing delicious and top-tier pecans. If you’re interested in trying some of our farm-fresh pecans for yourself, you can order directly from our website, catch us at the Tulsa and OKC farmers’ markets, or stop by our seasonal farm stand from November to March.