Sharpe, Ralph H. Department of Fruit Crops, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
Toledo, Romeo T. Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia.
Last reviewed:August 2019
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A large deciduous hickory tree [Carya illinoensis (alternatively C. illinoiensis or C. illinoinensis)], and the edible, oblong, thin-shelled nut from this tree. The pecan tree belongs to the family Juglandaceae (order Fagales; alternatively Juglandales in some classifications). It is native to valleys of the Mississippi River and tributaries as far north as Iowa, as well as to other streams of Texas, Oklahoma, and northern and central Mexico. This nut tree has become commercially important throughout the southern and southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Plantings have been made in other regions as well, including such diverse areas as Arizona, California, South Africa, Israel, Brazil, Australia, and Peru. The tree's major importance is in areas with a long growing season of more than 200 days and midsummer average temperatures of 26°C (79°F) or higher, although a few early ripening cultivars (horticultural varieties) are grown in slightly cooler regions. There are different cultivars for arid, irrigated regions and humid, summer regions. Cultivars in the United States have an indistinct winter chilling requirement, but they fruit best where the coldest winter temperatures average less than 16°C (61°F). See also: Fagales; Hickory; Horticultural crops; Juglandales
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