How Bulk Pecans Are Produced At Stahmanns in 13 Steps

Within the past 100 years, pecan production has nearly doubled in the U.S.—and for the past 89 years, Stahmanns has helped America get there. But what exactly does it take to produce bulk pecans at the rapid rate needed to fulfill and satisfy our customers? Keep reading to find out how the magichappens in 13 steps.

1. This fickle fruit needs the most expert care to yield a productive harvest.

At our 3,200-acre oasis in the desert, every day leading up to harvest is spent tending to our crop. That involves routine watering, clearing debris, loosening up the soil to provide aeration and moisture, and spraying organic fertilizer onto our trees to give them every opportunity to sprout and grow.

2. Starting in October, our large hydraulic arms shake the pecans free from their trees.

With a little shake of our hydraulic arms, the bulk pecans are freed from their first homes, making their trip to the ground and soon, to customers all over the world. Fun fact: Back in the day, this process was done by hand by original harvesters and native tribes!

Our Farm

3. The newly-released pecans are swept up into even rows between the trees.

Our tireless sweepers organize the fallen pecans and debris into ordered rows for gathering, preparing them for the next step in their journey. 

 

4. Pecan piles are gathered into our tractor receptacle and transported via conveyor belt to small dump trucks. 

Once the pecans and debris is ready to go in their rows, our tractors come by to load the piles onto their receptacles, which are then transported to small dump trucks on standby. This process allows the tractors to continue gathering the piles without a delay in the process, all part of our continuous harvesting system.

 

5. The piles are transferred into our massive red trailers, holding 11,000 lbs of pecans at a time.

From there, the small trucks offload their bulk pecan piles into massive red trailers waiting to be filled, holding 11,000 lbs of pecans at a time. These massive red trailers are ready to make the drive to our processing and shelling plant on the grounds. 

 

6. Trailers are whisked off past the pecan grove for processing at our onsite plant down the road.

The trailers make a short drive down the street to our onsite bulk pecan processing plant for rapid sorting, testing, and shelling. 

 

7. We sort the valuable crop from the dirt and debris onsite.

Our labyrinth of conveyor belts and machines effectively sorts our bulk pecans from the dirt and debris. 

 

8. Once sorted, the nuts are placed in soaking tanks of water and conditioner. 

The goal of this soak isn’t just to rinse off the dirt from the surrounding debris, but to fulfill our more critical task of reaching peak moisture levels. Reaching these optimal levels ensures a healthy cracking of the pecans, preserving the delicate nut and its rich flavors.

9. It’s time to get cracking — at 600 pecans per minute, that is.

Once fully hydrated, the bulk pecans are poured onto our mechanized cracker, where a  pneumatic piston shatters the shell, cracking about 600 pecans per minute. Hey, it’s better than cracking by hand, like people did when pecans used to be sold in shells!

 

10. Our pickers eye the bulk pecans, picking out broken shells and pieces by hand.

The machines did the heavy lifting, but nothing beats an expert eye. At this stage, our pickers attentively eye the piles, picking out any broken shells or pieces that are remaining as they move past on the conveyor belts. 

11. Once processed, pecans are hydration tested to assure optimal moisture levels.

Our team takes samples of the final product, testing their hydration levels. If the pecans are too dry, they are removed from the final shipment. If they’re too wet, they’re sent to the dryer.

 

12. The boxes are filled with only complete halves, each meeting weight requirements. 

Once sorted, shelled, processed, and tested, the bulk pecans are loaded into boxes, with each box containing only intact pecan halves. Any pecan fragments and chunks are saved for assorted uses in candies and other specialties. 

 

13. Boxes pass through metal detectors before shipping to a business near you.

Now fully boxed up and ready for shipment, our precious pecans pass through a metal detector, ensuring no metal contaminants snuck their way through.

And that’s it!

Once we’ve completed stage 13, our prized bulk pecans are on their way to top grocers, specialty snack food brands, and restaurants all over the world. While this process is complex and detailed, it’s all worth it in the end to keep our customers happy, our reputation protected, and our bulk pecans as tasty as ever.

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