The latest data shows pecan prices beginning to stabilize and even begin to push slightly higher as shipments continue to outpace last season and handler supplies begin to decrease more buyers have been active in the market hungry for a crop that may not be as big as expected.
The US pecan crop is estimated to be between 290-300 million pounds this year and the Mexico pecan crop is estimated to be slightly above the US crop production putting the North American pecan crop at somewhere around 600 million pounds of in-shell pecans for the 2020-21 season that began in September and ends in August of 2021. When converted to shelled pecans this total drops to around 300 million pounds of shelled pecans using a 50% meat to shell conversion rate, the industry standard.
The Georgia pecan crop has been harvested with a few growers still “scrapping” their orchards, the crop looks good and Georgia is likely to come in around 90-100 million pounds of that total. Moving west the crop has largely been harvested with growers in the Mesilla valley of New Mexico and West Texas as well as parts of Arizona still harvesting, but have harvested the largest portion of the crop.
A large crop has been harvested with the quality rated as very high for the year. Mexico is largely complete with harvest and will be finishing up in the next two weeks. Mexican growers have reported some quality issues in sections of Sonora and Coahuila and may come in under the previous estimates. The native crop will likely be well under the original estimates, largely due to the fact that low farm gate prices have caused many of the growers not to spend the extra money to harvest. Wholesale pecan prices on the farm have dropped below profitable levels for many US growers and harvesting is another expense that some native growers have opted not to add this year.
But the good news is that, recent imports of pecans by US shellers shows that the market may have found the bottom. Over the last few seasons as demand has increased, US shellers and handlers have imported record numbers of Mexican pecans, however imports this year have been down until recently. An expected larger US crop coupled with massive imports has pushed prices farm gate prices to decade lows for the first quarter of this season, but recent increases in imports from Mexico may be hinting to more active buyers in the market.
Last season during the first quarter reporting US shellers and handlers imported just under 16 million pounds of pecans, while this season US shellers and handlers have reported importing just under 46 million pounds representing a 190% increase over last year.
CORRECTION, while the original report did show a 190% increase in pecan imports, a new report has been released reporting a reduction in pecan imports by 53%. The APC released a corrected version shortly after the publication of this story.