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The Eighty-seventh Arkansas General Assembly designated the pecan as the official nut of Arkansas. Act 638, introduced as HB 1906 by Representative Larry Cowling (District 2, Little River County), had twenty-two co-sponsors and was approved on March 27, 2009. The act specifically noted, however, that it did not grant protected status to the pecan, thus ensuring that the fruit of the Carya illinoinensis may be harvested and consumed. Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas have similarly honored the pecan; in Texas, it is both the official state health nut and the official state tree, while Oklahoma celebrates it in the form of pecan pie in its official state meal.
The pecan is a species of hickory native to much of the South. It was first commercially cultivated in the 1880s. The pecan tree, like other members of the genus Carya, produces fruits that are technically drupes rather than botanical nuts but are covered with a hard husk; such are termed drupaceous nuts or tryma.
In addition to its nutmeats, the pecan tree’s wood is prized for use in flooring, cabinetry, and smoking meats. More than a thousand varieties of pecan are grown in alluvial soils throughout southern, eastern, and central Arkansas, with production zones concentrated along major rivers. The nuts are harvested by being shaken from their trees and then picked off the ground by hand. Most commercial growers speed the process by using mechanical tree shakers. In 2009, Arkansas’s pecan groves produced approximately 2.3 million pounds of nuts, more than any other nut variety grown in the state.
For additional information:
“Arkansas Pecan Production Report.” United States Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service. October 10, 2014. http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Arkansas/Publications/Crop_Releases/
Fruit_Nut_Vegetable/2014/pecanprod14.pdf (accessed November 16, 2015).
“Delta Region Pecan Production Report.” United States Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service. October 9, 2015. http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Arkansas/Publications/Crop_Releases/
Fruit_Nut_Vegetable/2015/arpecanoct15.pdf (accessed November 16, 2015).
“Home Garden Pecans in Arkansas.” University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. http://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/fruits-nuts/pecans.aspx (accessed November 16, 2015).
“Pecan Production in the Home Garden.” University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. http://www.uaex.edu/publications/PDF/FSA-6110.pdf (accessed November 16, 2015).
Ware, David. It’s Official! The Real Story behind Arkansas’s State Symbols. Little Rock: Butler Center Books, 2015.
Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office
Last Updated 11/16/2015
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