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TPGA celebrates 100 years this July

The Texas Pecan Growers Association hosts its 100th Conference and Trade Show this month.

In a black and white photo from January 1916, the Texas State Horticulture Society poses for a group photo after a meeting.

Founded in 1921, the Texas Pecan Growers Association (TPGA) celebrates 100 years as an organization this July in San Marcos, Texas, at its 2021 Conference and Trade Show. TPGA is one of the oldest agricultural commodity organizations in Texas. Since its creation, the association focused on its mission to assist Texas pecan growers in growing pecans profitably through education, research, and promotion of consumption. 

Over the last century, TPGA has grown and changed in response to global and local events. Come along as we take a brief trip through TPGA history. 

In a black and white photo from January 1916, the Texas State Horticulture Society poses for a group photo after a meeting.

In January 1916, the Texas State Horticulture Society poses for a group photo after a meeting.

TPGA Origins:

The idea of a state-wide group of pecan growers began in 1906. It was brought about by the former Governor of Texas, James Hogg, as his dying wish was to have a pecan tree planted at his head of his burial. A group of his friends and nurserymen from across the state met in Austin in 1906 to decide what pecan variety to plant at the gravesite. The men then decided to form a state-wide organization called the Texas Nut Growers Association.

The Texas Nut Growers Association held their first annual meeting at the A&M College of Texas in summer 1906 and met with the Texas Association of Nurserymen and the Texas Horticulture Society. The three organizations merged into one group and became the Texas State Horticulture Society. The organization soon dissolved due to the pressures brought on by World War I. This organization later encouraged the formation of the Texas Pecan Growers Association. TPGA held its first meeting at San Saba in 1921.

An archived advertisement from a TPGA Proceeding from after WWII.

TPGA Annual Conference Over the Years:

Throughout its 100-year history, TPGA has only cancelled its annual conference twice and both times due to global events. The first time was in 1942 due to World War II and the second was in 2020 because of the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

This clipping from TPGA Proceedings shows an ad from Champion Processing Equipment encouraging returning soldiers to grow pecans.

Three men look at and judge inshell pecan entries in one of the first Texas Pecan Show

The Texas Pecan Show:

Pecan Shows started as early as the first decades of the 1900s and advanced when the Texas Pecan Growers Association held the very first Texas Pecan Show in 1950. Since then, hundreds of growers enter their pecans into their county pecan show in an effort to qualify for the Texas Pecan Show held each year in July at the Annual Texas Pecan Growers Conference & Trade Show.  The Show has continued to grow, receive more attention, and help growers show off their hard work by competing for the Grand Champion prize. 

In the picture above, judges at one of the early Texas Pecan Shows discuss entries.

Pecan Publications:

Before TPGA purchased Pecan South, the association shared pecan knowledge through the bi-monthly Texas Pecan News in 1951. TPGA President John B. Harris saw a greater need within the industry and shared the idea of creating a quarterly magazine for the entire Pecan Belt. So, TPGA created The Pecan Quarterly that released its first edition in May 1967. 

The Pecan Quarterly merged with Pecan South in the 1980s. As the needs of the pecan industry change, Pecan South continues to follow the guidance laid by the original publication’s founders and moves forward with the industry.

A clipping for an issue of The Pecan Quarterly about pecan trees being planted at Gov. Hogg's grave.

Pecan—Texas’ state nut, tree, and pie:

Texans can proudly say that the pecan is honored as the state tree, nut, and pie. When Governor James Stephen Hogg passed away, his dying wish was to have a pecan tree planted at the head of his burial site which was carried out by some of his close friends and nurserymen in 1906 at Oakwood Cemetery in Austin, Texas. This caused much attention across the state with his unique wish and would lead to the pecan tree being declared the State Tree of Texas in 1919 by the 36th Texas Legislature. Since then the original tree planted at Hogg’s grave died, but the story continues to live on.

Inspired by pecan’s health benefits, the 77th Texas Legislature named the pecan as the State Health Nut of Texas in 2001 as pecans are native to Texas and represent Texas’s heritage as a natural food. While the pecan pie is a staple in the South and often seen during the holidays, it also happens to be the State Pie of Texas as declared in 2013 during the 83rd Texas Legislature. “Though a single person cannot be pinpointed as creating pecan pie, a recipe for this dessert first appeared in a St. Louis cookbook in 1898, and the credit goes to a Texas woman who submitted it.”

TPGA's pecan queen poses after receiving her crown.

The Pecan Queen:

Beginning in 1967, TPGA held a State Pecan Queen contest. To enter, contestants were required to be of high school or college age, single, and free to represent Texas pecan growers at various functions and present knowledge on the importance of pecans. Contestants were judged on the basis of pecan interest, knowledge, beauty, poise, and personality. The crowned Texas Pecan Queen was awarded a scholarship to her school of choice. The State Pecan Queen contest slowly faded out of conferences and is no longer sponsored by TPGA.

Continuing TPGA’s Conference Tradition:

TPGA hosted its 75th Annual Conference in Seguin in July 1996. This July, the tradition continues at the association’s 2021 Conference and Trade Show. Celebrating a century of assisting pecan growers, TPGA invites all pecan growers and industry members to its 100th Conference this July 18 to 21 in San Marcos, Texas. In addition to its educational program, trade show, and camaraderie with pecan growers, TPGA will also host a Pecan Pie Contest and an archival Photo Walk to Remember. More info can be found at