Kyle Durrence farms more than 300 acres of pecan trees. His great-grandfather, the late Lester Durrence, planted the first trees on the family property; his grandfather, the late John Segal Durrence enlarged the operation and his father, the late Calvin Durrence, continued to increase the size of the farm.
From the time Kyle was a child, helping his father and grandfather on the family farm, he knew instinctively that farming would be his career of choice. In 1999, Kyle purchased Durden Pecan Company in Metter, GA from Leon and Fay Cardell; the business was originally established by a distant relative of Sonya’s, Vasco Durden around 1955. The pecan plant is open from mid October through January.
"We buy pecans from local growers, do custom shelling and process pecans for our mail order business."
Growers shake the pecan trees with a machine we ironically call a “shaker”. This Machine has a long arm with a large clamp on the end. Depending on the size of the tree, the shaker can grab the trunk or individual limb to vibrate the tree causing the mature pecans to fall off.
Once the nuts are on the ground, a machine called a sweeper ( kind of like a street sweeper) sweeps the pecans into rows then a mechanical Harvester comes along and sucks them all up along with some leaves, sticks and occasional rock. So the farmer dumps all of this into a wagon and brings it to us.
When the farmer brings the pecans to the cleaning plant, we dump them into a vat to transfer them into a trammel, which processes all pecans out one end and all the rocks, sticks and trash out the other end. Then the pecans are sorted by an electronic eye that kicks out the inferior pecans. At this stage, we can then begin to sort the nuts by size.