Category Archives: History of pecans

Uncracking the History of Pecans: The Stahmanns Story

Stahmanns Pecans

Uncracking the History of Pecans:
The Stahmanns Story

Welcome back to the next edition of “Uncracking the History of Pecans”, our newest blog series where we explore the history of our favorite nut. After breaking down the history of pecans in North America and our favorite state, New Mexico, it’s time we take our story a little closer to home. This month, we’re taking you on the most important journey of all: our own.

Stahmanns Pecans

The pioneers: Changing course & breaking new ground

As we discussed last month, the real beginning of New Mexico pecan production began with our very own father-son team, W.J and Deane F. Stahmann. 

What you probably don’t know about that story is the path we were on before we suddenly changed course. A few years before our historic pecan planting in 1926, W.J. Stahmann, a buggy-maker from Wisconsin, purchased 2,900 acres of land in the Mesilla Valley with the goal of growing cotton. (That’s right, not pecans, but cotton). After making their way southwest, W.J. and Deane cleared the land and planted several acres of cotton, experimenting with different types and even setting up research farms in Jamaica and Mexico to grow cotton year-round. 

After developing a number of new varieties of cotton that are still grown around the world to this day, our wise founders decided to switch up the business. Starting in the 1930s, the Stahmanns decided to begin planting pecan trees between their cotton plants, before fully leaving their cotton business behind in the 1970s. They planted over 4,000 acres of pecan trees in that  experimental era, breaking new ground in the pecan industry and setting us off on a story four generations deep. 

The evolution: Making headlines & breaking records

After breaking new ground and planting the largest commercial batch of pecan trees in New Mexico, Stahmanns Pecans quickly started making waves in the industry. Soon after our first endeavor into the world of pecan production, the Stahmanns started dreaming even bigger, with plans to expand our business to other continents.

This big dream transcended into a real plan in 1965, when Deane’s son, Deane Jr., planted 1,800 acres of pecan trees in Australia with the intention of creating the first commercial pecan operation in the Southern Hemisphere. Those first trees were planted at Gatton in Queensland and shortly after, at a flagship property called “Trawalla” near Moree in New South Wales. This secondary step took our dream to new heights, officially establishing us as the largest pecan-producing family in the world. 

This global expansion changed our futures forevermore, cementing Stahmanns Pecans as an American success story. As a result of the record-breaking news, our farm was regularly visited by Hollywood celebrities in the 40s and 50s, with even a major feature in Life Magazine. While these accolades brought us constant joy and satisfaction, our plans were truly just beginning.

Pecan tree orchard

The impact: Golden perfection & community connection

Following years of growth and popularity across the globe, we quickly started becoming a household name around town. To give back to our community and connect on a deeper level, we decided to open our farm to the public for retail opportunities. In 1983, the first Stahmanns country store was opened, and with it, a new local tradition began.

After nearly three decades of precious memories made and tasty treats shared, our country stores and candy business closed their doors due to the economic shift. While it was difficult to close that chapter with our community, we were happy to start a new one with fresh focus and excitement. Today, our mission lies in premium wholesale pecan production and shelling for small-to-large businesses. 

As a result of our decades of hard work, perseverance, and evolution, Stahmanns Pecans remain one of the most sought-after pecan brands in the business. We are proud to serve customers across the world, with our signature nuts used by famous brands and businesses all over the globe. 

Our reputation as the best pecans in the world still stands strong after nearly 90 years, and to that, we thank our loyal customers and local supporters. We couldn’t do it without you. Thank you for being part of our story.

Stahmanns Pecans

Secure signature Stahmanns pecans
for your product

Add a new chapter to our story by becoming an official Stahmanns partner, giving your product fresh flavor, crunch, and vibrance with our time-tested pecan nuts. We’d love your team to experience the difference that Stahmanns Pecans makes. Please call or email us to begin your journey. 

Email:  pecans@stahmanns.com

TOLL FREE (844) 739-6887

FOR SALES: (575) 644-8247

Uncracking the History of Pecans: The New Mexico Story

Pecans New Mexico

Uncracking the History of Pecans:
The New Mexico Story

Welcome to the second edition of “Uncracking the History of Pecans”, our newest blog series where we take a deep dive into the roots of our favorite nuts and see where it all began. While us locals know the popularity of pecans in New Mexico is strong and present across the state, many outsiders are unfamiliar with our story. And, despite the fact that we were the top pecan-producing state in the U.S. in 2019, many don’t even know that New Mexico is home to pecan orchards at all! It’s time to set the record straight and take a trip back in time to where it all began in the Enchantment State.

Humble roots: 1900 – 1932

The reason that many may not initially picture pecans in New Mexico is probably due to their native history. The pecan, or Carya illinoinensis, is mostly native to the Mississippi River Valley and Northern Mexico, with its first sightings in the 16th century by Spanish settlers in the areas now known as Texas and Louisiana. From the 16th century to the 20th, pecans grew in popularity, spreading in interest for both business owners and consumers alike. This is where the New Mexico story begins. 

While we can’t trace the history of pecans in New Mexico specifically due to a brief record, historical experts at NMSU speculate that pecan nuts “probably first arrived in New Mexico along with American settlers around the turn of the 20th century.” Digging deeper, these experts explain that while there were a few trees shown to produce seedling-type pecan nuts in southern New Mexico, there is evidence to prove that some of these trees were brought to the area from central Texas and north-central Mexico in the late 1800s or early 1900s.

One person who was known to spread the pecan nut to the Enchantment State was Fabian Garcia, the first director of the New Mexico Agricultural Experiment Station. In 1913, he planted some of the first pecan trees in New Mexico, with many still standing at New Mexico State University’s Fabian Garcia Horticultural Science Center. At the time of planting, the four-acre planting was the largest pecan planting in New Mexico. This groundbreaking endeavor would pave the way to the first historic commercial planting of pecans in New Mexico by our very own W.J. Stahmann. 

Commercial roots: 1932 -1960

From 1900 to 1932, interest in pecans in New Mexico weaned. Due to the lower economic status of many U.S. citizens, a pound of pecans cost the average worker 2 hours worth of their pay, while today, a worker can buy approximately 3 lbs of pecans for an hour’s worth of pay. In these trying times, the future of pecans in New Mexico was unclear—until a little family with an entrepreneurial spirit cleared things up.

Beginning in 1932, our very own W.J. and Deanne F. Stahmann, the original father-son founders of Stahmanns Farms, planted the first commercial batch of pecan trees in New Mexico. Considered by experts to be the first large-scale planting of pecans in New Mexico, this 30-acre planting was made at our first location, the Snow Ranch, in 1934 and 1935. As the study, ‘Historical Background of Pecan Plantings in the Western Region’ by NMSU experts details, W.J. planted ‘Western’ variety trees with ‘Burkett’ as the pollinator. He also planted many rare ‘Bradley’ trees along the Rio Grande River, only a few miles from Fabian Garcia’s original planting. Fun fact: our panoramic 3,200-acre pecan orchard was actually land that was cleared and leveled for planting following this initial innovation on the Snow Ranch by the original Stahmanns. 

Following this initial foray, other smaller-scale plantings were conducted by other growers in southern Doña Ana County and in the Rio Grande Valley below El Paso, TX.

Widespread roots: 1960 – today

While many showed early interest in joining the pecan industry following the Stahmanns’ pioneer planting, it took another 30 years before other growers began producing pecans in New Mexico at noteworthy levels. Once growers saw the economic value that Stahmanns Pecans provided to local citizens and businesses, they realized the potential that lay ahead, and so began widespread pecan production in New Mexico in the 1960s. 

Today, small pecan orchards are found in Quay, Curry, De Baca and Valencia Counties, but the New Mexico pecan industry is still largely focused in our southern counties. 70% of the New Mexico industry acreage is in the Mesilla Valley (Dona Ana County), while 20% of the acreage is in the Pecos River Valley (in Chaves and Eddy Counties) and 5% in the Tularosa Basin (in Otero County). Luna, Sierra, Lea and Roosevelt Counties also have small areas planted with pecan trees. 

We are proud of the place in history that Stahmanns holds, and are even more proud that New Mexico holds such a place as well. We honor and respect our fellow New Mexico pecan growers who continue to keep our tradition alive throughout the state, and can’t wait to see where the future takes us. 

Taste a piece of history with Stahmanns Pecans

If your business is seeking a fresh crunch of flavor backed by a time-tested reputation, you’ve found it. Contact our team today to upgrade your product, maximize your bottom line, and exceed the possibilities with Stahmanns commercial pecans in New Mexico. 

Email:  pecans@stahmanns.com

Call: TOLL FREE (844) 739-6887 | FOR SALES (575) 644-8247

 

Information courtesy of: NMSU’s ‘History of the New Mexico Pecan Industry’, ‘The New Mexico Pecan Industry Today’, and ‘Historical Background of Pecan Plantings in the Western Region’

Uncracking the History of Pecans in North America

history of pecans

Uncracking the History of Pecans in North America

As a historic pecan producer and cultivator for 87 years, we like to think that we know a thing or two about these precious nuts. But the truth is, the story of pecans begins long before W.J. Stahmann ever planted his first pecan tree in 1932. Take a trip with us back in time to learn the deep-rooted history of pecans in North America and how that story keeps evolving each year.

At the very beginning:

Page 1 in the history of pecans begins long before America was settled and declared. In fact, pecans are considered a native nut to North America, growing wild for millions of years before becoming modernized by European settlement and the agricultural movement. 

Here’s a few fun facts about the initial history of pecans: 

  • Pecans are a species of hickory native to North America.
  • The scientific name for the pecan is Carya illinoinensis, which is a member of the Juglandaceae family.
  • The first fossil evidence for plants within the Juglandaceae family dates back to the Cretaceous period—that was 145 million years ago!
  • Evolution and differentiation continued to happen over the next 100 million years in the J. family, fine-tuning the development of the pecan up to about 45 million years ago. 
  • Since then, pecan nuts have naturally grown and fallen to the ground for surrounding habitats to shell and enjoy, including humans. 
  • Before Europeans settled in North America in the 16th century, pecans were widely traded and consumed by Native Americans, even being used as a form of currency for a period of time.

What’s in a name?

As we all know, the name “pecan” has faced much controversy over the years regarding its correct pronunciation. Depending where you’re from, the pronunciation varies from “puh-kaan” to “pee-kan”. But speaking of proper naming, where did the term “pecan” even come from?

Here’s a bit behind the naming history of pecans:

  • “Pecan” is derived from the Algonquian word “pakani,” which is used to refer to various pecans, walnuts and hickory nuts.
  • Pecans first became known to Europeans in the 16th century, when Spanish explorers landed in what is now Texas, Louisiana, and Mexico. 
  • Spanish explorers first referred to pecan nuts as nuez de la arruga, which roughly translates to “wrinkle nut” due to its appearance.
  • From there, pecans made their way across the continent, with evidence of popularity rising during revolutionary times. 
  • The first U.S. pecan planting took place in Long Island, NY, in 1772, with the nuts considered a delicacy or luxury among Americans.  
  • By the end of the late 1700s, their popularity had spread all along the Atlantic Seaboard, with Thomas Jefferson even planting pecan trees in his nut orchard at his home in Virginia!
  • George Washington even noted in his journal that Thomas Jefferson gave him “Illinois nuts” pecans, which he then grew at Mount Vernon, his Virginia home.

The last century or so:

Since growing in cultivation and popularity following the revolution and independence of the U.S., pecans became modernized and widespread in consumption. This time in the history of pecans is where mass production started and where our story began. 

Here are a few key events in the recent history of pecans:

  • Pecans were one of the most recently domesticated major crops, although already well- known among native and colonial Americans as a delicacy.
  • The commercial growing of pecans in the United States did not officially begin until the 1880s, when grafting techniques were developed to allow for precise variety selection on an industrial level.
  • Some of the most popular varieties including ‘Stuart’, ‘Schley’, ‘Elliott’, and ‘Desirable’ were actually developed in the 1800s and remain relatively unchanged.  
  • While New Orleans is known for its praline pecans (made out of pecans, sugar, milk, and butter),  the famous sweet treat actually originated in France. Its popularity continued to grow in the French Quarter, where it became one of America’s earliest street foods.
  • The pecan continued to grow in popularity throughout the 20th century, spiking in sales in the 1920s after a pecan pie recipe was printed on cans of Karo syrup.
  • In 1932, pecans officially took root in the U.S. when our original founder, W.J. Stahmann, planted the first pecan trees on our farm, creating the first planted pecan farm and the first irrigated pecan farm in the world. 

Fast-forward to today:

Today, Stahmanns Pecans continues to carry our tradition of pecan growing into modern times, with New Mexico becoming the largest pecan-producing state in the U.S. in 2019. We are honored to be part of the deep-rooted history of pecans, and can’t wait to see where it’s headed in the next 100 years!

If your business is ready to refresh flavors and uncrack a world of possibilities, contact our team to discover the highest quality bulk pecans since 1932. 


Our team

Information courtesy of uspecans.org, atlantamagazine.com, wikipedia.org