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Louisianians Love Pecans

Food scientists keep discovering more nutritional value from eating pecans. And that's good for Louisianians because they love pecans. And they also like to grow them. Pecan production contributes, on average, about $12 million to the Louisiana economy each year. Producers learn how to grow pecans and manage pecan orchards at the nation's No. 1 – and only – Pecan Research and Extension Station, which is located just outside of Shreveport.

Watch a 1.5-minute video about the station.

In 2011, pecan prices more than doubled because of increased demand from Asian markets, particularly China. Traditionally, pecan growers get about $1.50 per pound, according to Randy Sanderlin, Pecan Station coordinator. But the price has gone up to about $3 per pound.

“Five years ago they bought just two or three million pounds,” Charles Graham, LSU AgCenter pecan researcher, said of the Asian market. “In 2010, they bought more than 80 million pounds.”

The Pecan Station is part of the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station. It was established in 1930 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and transferred to the LSU AgCenter in 1973. The research focus remains the same – develop management practices to make pecan growing more profitable, not only in Louisiana but all over the Southeast.

The broad areas of research are plant pathology, entomology and horticultural projects associated with commercial pecan production. The station includes three greenhouses of 4,050 square feet for pecan research and seven research orchard blocks. Total size of the station is about 90 acres, with 65 acres in pecan trees.

Because of research, LSU AgCenter scientists are able to answer frequently asked questions about pecan production. Read Pecan FAQs.

Here are more facts about pecans:

– Pecans are grown in 39 Louisiana parishes and are commonly found in the homeowner landscape as well.

– Pecans are nutritious, tasty treats that literally fall from trees. They must be handled properly to ensure quality.

– Pecan trees are found in yards, pastures, fence rows and river bottoms in Louisiana. Harvest the nuts soon after they fall because “a lot of bad things can happen to them on the ground,” said Sanderlin. Pecans often contain excessive moisture when they first fall. The nuts should be dried before they are put in storage. Drying can usually be accomplished by placing the pecans in a shallow layer in a warm, dry area for two weeks. Add fans and heat to speed drying. Read more about the proper handling of pecans.

– Pecans have traditionally been used in pies, cookies, candies and other desserts. But they also can be used in more healthful ways such as sprinkling atop morning cereal. Add them to salads, casseroles, pasta and other dishes. Research has shown that pecans are antioxidant-rich, cholesterol-lowering and heart healthy.

The LSU AgCenter is one of 11 institutions of higher education in the Louisiana State University System. Headquartered in Baton Rouge, it provides educational services in every parish and conducts research that contributes to the economic development of the state. The LSU AgCenter does not grant degrees nor benefit from tuition increases. The LSU AgCenter plays an integral role in supporting agricultural industries, enhancing the environment, and improving the quality of life through its 4-H youth, family and community programs. 

Last Updated: 12/27/2012 9:21:23 AM

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