Pecan farmers across the southern US have had a few rough years with major hurricane damage wiping out entire orchards, high winds, late freezes and flooding through the pecan belt, growers have had to adapt to the changing conditions, and quickly.
Because the crop is grown from the east coast all the way to the west coast across the southern US and even a small organic crop grown in the north, the pecan industry has seen it fair share of challenges these past few seasons.
While this season has not been an easy one, the quality of this years pecan crop looks to be excellent. Between 65 and 70% of the crop has been harvested this year, and so far the quality is very good. With most of the eastern crop already in and the western crop coming into the cleaning and shelling plants pecan quality is looking exceptional this year.
Many growers in the east have had several tough years with severe storm damage back to back, the trees have required more attention to pruning techniques to allow them to recover. Nutrients in the orchards have been managed well and this year the quality is very high. Most growers are reporting high percentages of “Fancy” Kernels. The color is also very good on most varieties.
Out west growers have been battling high winds and late freeze damage, but have still managed to bring up the quality to 5 year highs in some orchards. Pruning is more common for many growers in the west and helps significantly with potential damage from high winds.
As we continue through harvest season we will get a better picture of the overall crop, but as of now quality is some of the best in years. Domestic customers have been increasing purchases, and the high quality crop may help that trend continue. Exports fell slightly last year, but have been showing strong recovery with exports up over 2 million pounds in September and up another 5 million pounds in October when compared to last season.
Growers continue to work feverishly in the orchards and the cleaning and shelling facilities to get the crop harvested and ready for consumption, and this year most growers are harvesting a very high quality crop.