By Mary Wolf, originally published in 2018, updated on Nov. 13, 2022.
The nip in the air, the shifting tones of leaves, and the resounding boom of crow scare cannons. For residents of Luther, these signs can only mean one thing: it’s pecan time. There’s an uptick in activity at Couch Pecan Orchard, opening for the season on November 15. Harvesting equipment, trucks, and laborers prepare for the influx of visitors hungry for freshly cracked pecans.
There will be plenty of pecans available this year, despite reports of a spotty harvest statewide due to the drought.
Indigenous to North America, pecans are Oklahoma’s most native agricultural resource. They’re also Oklahoma’s number one specialty crop, pumping roughly $30 million into the state economy in 2017 alone. Ranked fifth in the production among pecan-producing states—only Georgia, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona harvest more—Oklahoma pecan production averages 18 to 20 million pounds per year. Roughly 75 percent of that production comes from native trees; the remainder is improved varieties, commonly known as “paper shells.”
Chris Ivich, a longtime Luther resident who worked at the orchard for many years posted this on Facebook about the challenges to bring in a harvest, recalling what Gordon Couch used to say. Mr. Couch founded the orchard in the 1960s and his daughter, Diane operated it successfully until selling the operation in 2020 to Mark and Teri Stroud:
“Gordon Couch said, “My mother was always telling me that money doesn’t grow on trees so I set out to prove her wrong.’ But, what is also true is that it takes an astounding amount of hard physical labor in caring for the land and the hundreds of trees throughout the year, thinning the nuts, maintaining equipment, assembling a temporary labor force for harvesting & processing the nuts, taking orders and conducting sales onsite during the hectic Thanksgiving rush. (And let’s not even talk about the crows.) So when next you are looking forward to enjoying that bag of delicious pecans from the Couch Pecan Orchard have a bit of appreciation for the work, history, and love of the land that went into it from Mark and Teri Stroud, the Couches and all the others who down through the years have labored on this Luther icon, this quintessential American Family Farm,” said Ivich.
Buy your pecans at Couch Pecan Orchard beginning Tuesday, Nov. 15. Known all over the state, the orchard on Route 66 provided the spark to develop the Luther Pecan Festival in 2017. This year the festival is on Nov. 19 -20, 2022.
Bite Size: Pecan Facts
- A study by the New England Journal of Medicine finds that regular nut consumption can decrease the risk of death from all causes, including heart disease. The study also found that regular nut eaters weighed less than those who do not eat nuts.
- People that eat five or more one-ounce servings of nuts per week show a reduced risk of heart disease.
- A handful of pecans – about 19 halves – is a good source of fiber, thiamin, and zinc, and an excellent source of copper and manganese – a mineral that’s essential for metabolism and bone health.
- A 1-ounce serving of pecans provides 12 grams of “good” monounsaturated fat, with zero cholesterol or sodium.
- Pecans are the third most popular tree nut in the US. The first is almonds; the second is walnuts.
- Compared to other nuts, pecans are among the lowest in carbs (4 grams) and highest in dietary fiber (3 grams) per serving.
- The largest pecan pie on record was created in 1989 when bakers produced a pie measuring 40 feet in diameter and weighing 16.5 tons. The pie was cut into 20,000 slices.
Editor’s note: The article was updated from the original written by Mary Wolf, published in 2018.