Which US State Produces The Most Pecans?

No matter how you pronounce pecan (PEA-can or puh-CON), the versatile nut is oh-so-yummy. Whether you prefer your pecans in a pie or simply roasted and eaten by the handful, the nuts offer many health benefits, according to WebMD

Often associated with Southern cuisine, pecan trees are native to Alabama, Texas, Indiana, Nebraska, and Iowa, according to Britannica. The nut has a long history in North America. It was used by Native Americans as currency and as food. According to U.S. Pecans, which explains that the name pecan comes from the Algonquin word for the nut, "pacane," meaning "nuts requiring a stone to crack." When European settlers ventured to what is now the United States, they planted pecan orchards.

The pecan remains an important crop in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that pecan production increased 18% in 2020 from 2019 for a total of 302 million pounds with a total value of $399 million.

Georgia reigns supreme

Considering the South's love for the nut, perhaps it's no surprise that Georgia is the top grower of pecans. According to the USDA, in 2020, Georgia grew 142 million pounds of the nut with New Mexico coming in second with 77 million pounds grown in 2020. 

Three other states that raise pecan trees and rank in the top 15 for producers have publicly declared their love for the state, per Millican Pecan. Both Alabama and Arkansas have declared the pecan as the state's official health nut, while the pecan tree is the state tree for Texas. In Georgia, pecans are primarily grown in the state's southwest region, according to Millican Pecan, and are harvested during the months October, November, and December. Pecans first began to be raised for large-scale production in the late part of the 19th century, according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia. It wasn't until the 20th century, though, that the crop really picked up steam with 40 million pounds of the nut being produced in 1948 in Georgia.

Nowadays, the pecan is exported to foreign counties, including China, South Korea, Western Europe, and United Arab Emirates, according to U.S. Pecans. People all over the world may be learning about the delicious flavors and heart-healthy properties of pecans (per Good Housekeeping), but they will always remain an American treat.