Pecan orchards have been in the Russell family for 5 generations
Dann Russell tells his story:
“My Grandfather had a large commerical peach and pecan orchard in the Hill Country near Lampasas,” says Dann Russell. “My dad grew up on this farm, and worked the orchard as a young man, taking care of the orchard, helping with harvesting and selling their produce.”
Young as he was, Dann’s father soon favored pecan growing over the peach side of the family business. In the 1930s and 40s, refrigeration was not common, and keeping peaches fresh for customers was difficult. But Russell pecans were always a favorite for Texas country cooking.
During World War II, Dann’s father went to San Diego to build military planes, but longed to get back to Texas. “I was pretty young when we started our orchard here in McLennan County in the early 1960s,” says Dann. “We planted about 50 acres of orchard during that time, which continued our family’s wholesale and retail business in Texas into the third generation.”
Dann Russell left home in the late 1960s to join the military for 7 years, but often returned home to McLennan County to help the family with harvest and sales. When his Dad retired from the family business in 1977, Dann Russell took over the orchards with his wife, Sandy, and son and continued the family tradition by teaching his son the pecan business. Dann’s son grew up at the family orchard and still helps to run the orchard and the store.
“Over 30 years ago we added pecan candies,” says Dann, “which have become a true traditional favorite in Texas. We get orders for all of our different pecan candies from Texas, yes, but also all over the US and from overseas.” Pecan season is always very busy, says Dann, and they involve the whole family during pecan season to keep up with all the orders for fine chocolate candies, holiday roasted nut treats, gift baskets, and custom pecan shelling.
The Russell’s also added a new retail shop at the family orchard in Gholson, and have added other pecan products like pecan shell mulch, a Texas pecan cookbook, pecan harvesting tools, and a squirrel trap. We launched our new website with online shopping on November 24, 2004.
“My dad’s pecan trees are still producing,” says Dann proudly, “and we add young trees on a regular basis, now over 100 acres.” But the family tradition doesn’t stop with selling pecans. As a member of the McLennan County Agricultural Committee, the Russell family often hosts the McLennan County Field Days to pass on their expertise to local folks wanting to learn about pecan varieties, tree health, and nut processing.
“You ask anybody in the area—Where do you get pecans?—and their first thought is—Russell’s,” says Dann. “I have many customers who say their parents used to bring them out during pecan season. Sandy and I have a grandson now who goes out with us into the orchard, and he sure loves those pecan candies!”
The Russell Pecan Orchards are located 10 miles outside of Waco on FM933 Gholson Road.
Russell’s Pecan Orchards is a member of the Texas Pecan Growers Association and Pecan Producers, Inc., a regional co-op of pecan producers.