I live in central Alabama, and around here the pecans begin dropping from the trees in late October, November. Soon I can expect to find them available in the farmers' markets. My favorite way to buy them is cracked, still in the shells. I prefer to keep them in the shells so they won't dry out too much. I want them already cracked so that I don't wear out my hands and fingers trying to crack them open! It's not hard to remove them from the cracked shells, and they are still moist inside.