As millions settle across the dinner table for a Thanksgiving feast and gather around the Christmas tree to open presents, the Montz family will squeeze in holiday activities around a rather different winter tradition: harvesting pecans.
The pecan originated in North America and is one of the few native plant species that has developed into a substantial agricultural crop. Its origin traces back to the 16th century, when it is believed natives of the pre-colonial central and eastern region, along with the river valleys of Mexico, used it as a major food source.
In Texas, not only is the pecan the state tree, but the state is consistently one of the top three producers in the United States along with Georgia and New Mexico. The tree is native to 152 counties, but capable of growing in all. Typical production for Texas pecans averages around 60 million pounds per year.
Pecans were originally produced by harvesting with a bucket and by the hands of the farmer but have since grown into a highly mechanized industry with many moving parts required to keep a business thriving.
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