ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Contestants from six Big Country counties gathered at the Taylor County AgriLife Extension office for the 2021 Abilene Area Pecan Show on Wednesday.

Over 20 different species of pecan were on display getting categorized and judged based on appearance, nut-to-shell ratio, and size.

Don Derry, who has entered the pecan show for eight straight years, brought his picnic basket wrapped in American flag tape and a dangling Lightning McQueen key chain.

Derry brought eight different species of pecans to this year’s show, bringing a total of 336 nuts.

Many of the species Derry brought placed, but to those who know him, they know that is not a surprise.

Don Derry won the state pecan show in 2018 and finished second in the state last year for the smallest pecans.

When asked about the secret to his success, Derry didn’t get very technical.

“A lot of times I just walk the alleys and pick them up,” Derry said.

He is competing against pecan orchards and farmers from around the Big Country, but has struck gold when it comes to gathering pecans from off the streets of Abilene.

Judging the competition is Brown County extension agent Scott Anderson, who explained what the judges are looking for at these pecan shows.

“We were putting a lot of attention on size,” Anderson said. “Which is how many nuts per pound.”

They also look at the ratio of nut-to-shell, as well as coloring.

However, each different species of pecan has Texas standards by which they are judged, and are placed based off of their comparison to the state’s averages.

Anderson said that he believes this year’s show has a few entries that could succeed at the regional competition, as well as the state level.

Places all too familiar to Don Derry, but said harvesting his pecans is never easy.

“I’m moving the leaves, and dogs are barking and at your ankles,” Derry said, laughing.

Even after dodging neighborhood pooches, he counts all of his award ribbons and plaques as fond, fun memories, but more importantly, bragging rights.

There are 94 different species of pecan across the state of Texas, and it takes 20 years of research to give each one a name.