Growers of Texas Native Pecans Since 1972
Welcome to Our Farm
This thumbnail photo shows a portion of our main pecan grove near Columbus, Texas. Click on this photo to view a full size jpg photo (35K).
The trees shown in this photo are all estimated to be over 150 years old. The trunks of these trees are over 3 feet in diameter near the base. They have survived hurricanes, tornadoes, and lightning strikes, all of which have knocked off some of the higher limbs of these trees. They are all still good pecan producers which illustrates the hardiness and resilience of Texas native pecan trees.
History of Our Farms
Dohmann Pecan Farms is owned and operated by Janis and Edgar Dohmann of Alvin, Texas. Our primary farm is a 17-acre native pecan grove along the Colorado River near Columbus, Texas in Colorado County. This pecan grove has been in Janis' family for over 100 years and it has been operated by Janis and Edgar since 1972.
The soil conditions along the Colorado River are ideal for growing pecans. The soil is well-drained sandy loam and the river bank is high enough that flooding is rarely ever a problem thanks to the modern flood-control system along the Colorado River.
The native pecan trees have been supplemented somewhat by hybrid grafting of Stuart and Mahan varieties onto some young native saplings by Janis' father in the 1950's. We are further expanding our native stands by planting hybrids and by grafting -- mostly Wichita, Kiowa, Cheyenne, and Desirable.
Most of the trees that were grafted with Stuart and Mahan varieties have resorted to their native pecan production as the grafted limbs have gradually been lost to disease, high winds, lightning, or other mishaps. Our recent grafting and planting of hybrid varieties is primarily an experimental effort to increase the pecan production of our farm in a relatively short period of time. Presently only a very small percentage of our production is hybrid pecans -- the vast majority of our pecans are Texas native pecans.
We also own an 8-acre pecan farm at our home in Alvin, Texas. This pecan orchard was planted in the early 1900's. We purchased it in 1978 and have added a number of pecan trees to the original orchard which only covered a portion of the property. The majority of trees at this location are essentially Texas native pecans but are more properly classified as "seedling" pecans because this property is not located where pecans typically grow as "native volunteers."
Our farming operation is a true mom and pop venture. We perform all tree care and maintenance ourselves and we hand-harvest all of our pecans which we sell direct to individuals as well as to commercial pecan brokers.
Why Are Texas Native Pecans So Great?
Thanks for asking. We believe that native pecans have a better flavor than the improved varieties but besides that, consider these facts about native pecans:
While native pecan trees are an evolutionary marvel which produce excellent flavored nuts, they pose problems for those who wish to produce commercial pecan crops. Basically, nature's priorities for a pecan tree just do not coincide with those of the commercial pecan grower.
- Native pecans have evolved to their present state over a period of many centuries. "Improved varieties" are still in their first century of evolution.
- Texas leads the nation in the production of native pecans. It is estimated that there are over 600,000 acres of native pecans trees in Texas consisting of about 30,000,000 individual trees.
- Texas has 9 major rivers and over 20 minor rivers and large streams, most with ideal soil, climate, and water conditions along their banks for growth and development of pecan trees. Pecan trees have adapted themselves well to unattended growth in such environments.
- Native pecan trees have potentially long life spans of over 150 years and can grow to heights and canopy diameters of 150 feet and more. Such trees are awesome to behold and are true natural treasures.
- Every native pecan tree produces a nut that is its own unique variety. Thus there are many millions of unique native pecan varieties.
The pecan's limitations as an orchard tree (low average yields per acre, alternate and irregular bearing, unmanageable tree size, varmint competition for nuts, long juvenile stage, particular soil and water condition demands, etc.) are precisely those factors that have enabled it to compete effectively in its natural river bottom habitats.
For many centuries, only American Indians enjoyed the delicious taste and nutrition of pecans. However since the 1500's when exploration and settlement of Texas and other native pecan producing areas began, the popularity and demand for pecans has spread and grown. True commercial efforts at pecan production began in the late 1800's.
Early pecan production efforts involved selecting the most desirable native nuts and grafting wood from those trees onto other native trees to change their characteristics and create orchards that produce consistent varieties of the most desired native pecans.
In the early 1900's the U.S. Department of Agriculture began pecan-breeding programs to attempt to produce improved varities of pecans to improve their commercial viability. Some of the characteristics that are sought in such research include:
Much progress has been made in the development of improved pecan varieties; however, with such wide ranging and often conflicting goals, it is little wonder that (with improved pecans still in their first century of evolution) the "ideal pecan" has yet to be found. Thus what we have at present are many choices of improved varieties that represent various compromises upon these ideal goals.
- Large nuts with delicious, attractive meats, thin shells, and consistent size
- Small trees for convenient harvesting
- Disease and insect resistant
- Adaptable to varying soil, water, and climate conditions
- Rapid growth with a short juvenile stage
- Early and consistent annual bearing
- Ability to harvest an entire crop at one time
Much success has been achieved in producing large nuts with attractive meats and consistent size which makes them commercially viable to produce. Most of the varieties that have been released for commercial production have good flavors and are acceptable to most consumers.
While not every native pecan is superior in flavor to the improved varieties (remember there are millions of varieties of native pecans), many people who have had the opportunity to taste and use native pecans in their baking will only use native pecans if they are available.
So How Do I Know That I'm Getting a Good Pecan?
Pecans are generally rated by size and grade as follows:
Fancy, Choice, Standard, and Damaged all refer to edible, shelled halves of commercially marketed pecans. The highest retail price is demanded for whole Choice and Fancy halves. However, since most recipes call for broken or chopped pieces anyway, it is really a waste of money to buy the most expensive grade of pecans when "damaged" grades are all you need.
- Fancy--Golden Color, No Defects
- Choice--Darker than Fancy, No Defects
- Standard--Harvested green (fuzzy kernels), mottled color, shriveled ends, etc.
- Damaged--Broken or Cracked kernels
- Inedible--Sprouted, embryo rot, rancid, molded, etc.
Sizes: (number of halves per pound)
Most native pecans range from Small Topper to Large and most improved varieties range from Extra Large to Mammoth. Most native pecan growers only sell their Medium and Large pecans to the retail market as these generally yield an acceptable 40%-45% kernel shell-out compared with 50%-55% for improved varieties.
- Mammoth -- 200-250
- Jr. Mammoth -- 251-300
- Jumbo -- 301-350
- Extra Large -- 351-450
- Large -- 451-550
- Medium -- 551-650
- Topper -- 651-750
- Small Topper -- 751 up
A Few Tips on Buying Pecans:
- If you are buying in-shell pecans (especially natives), try to get them commercially cracked. It is very economical, saves lots of time and generally yields about 90% perfect halves.
- Examine the kernels and try to taste a sample. The kernels should mostly be Choice or Fancy grade and you should like the flavor. One advantage of improved varieties is that once you find a variety you like, they pretty much look the same and taste the same each year. With natives, you're dealing with unique varieties so you either need to check them out each year or find a grower to deal with directly on an annual basis whose pecans you like.
- Buy direct from the grower if possible. As in most cases, the more "middle men" you can eliminate, the better your price will be
- When estimating your pecan needs, consider that 2.5 pounds of native pecans or 2 pounds of improved varieties will be needed to yield 1 pound (about 4 cups) of shelled pecans
- Be sure to plan for your pecan storage needs when you purchase pecans. Because of their high unsaturated oil content, pecans deteriorate rapidly at room temperature, especially after they are cracked. Here are the approximate storage times (in months) at various temperatures for pecans (native and improved):
|70 deg F
|50 deg F
|32 deg F
|0 deg F
The moral to this is: Shell your pecans as soon as possible after you crack them, store them in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer until you are ready to use them.
Eat Pecans! 10,000,000 Squirrels Can't Be Wrong.
| Pecan Home Page
| Order Some Pecans
| More Pecan Information
| Top of This Page
This site is http://www.ortech-engr.com/pecans/farm.html
Copyright © 1995, 2001 by Dohmann Pecan Farms. All rights reserved.
Visitors -- Last Modified on:
-- Thanks for visiting from: