By Clint Thompson
Pecan harvest season is upon us here in the Southeast. While projections are that this year’s crop will be substantially less than last year’s, growers are optimistic, especially with the potential for increased prices, said Lenny Wells, University of Georgia Extension pecan specialist.
“Those that have a crop, which is mostly growers with young trees, and we’ve got a lot of younger trees out there, growers that have a pretty good crop are fairly optimistic,” Wells said. “It’s looking like we may see little better prices this year. All the nuts that were in cold storage after last year’s huge crop, most all of that is gone. The shellers are in need of the nuts when we start harvesting, which is a good position to be in. There’s a little more optimism right now than there has been the last several years really.”
Increased Interest from China?
The renewed optimism stems largely from increased interest from China in purchasing U.S. pecans. That should drive the market up after last year’s disastrous prices.
“It’s expected this year that they will buy some. I think last year, from what I’m told, with the new tariff situation, and the Chinese government came out with a program for buyers over there to enroll in that program and be able to bring in nuts at a little bit lower tariff than the 48% or whatever it was. Last year that was in place, but the buyers were a little wary of it. Since they had some experience with it last year, there’s a lot more confidence in that program,” Wells said. “I think the buyers there will be much more willing to buy.”
Georgia had its best production season last year since Hurricane Michael in 2018 with an estimated 142 million pounds. However, projections are around 70 million pounds this year. Alabama was on track to have a good production season but its crop was wiped out due to Hurricane Sally in September and Hurricane Zeta in October.
September is normally reserved for the earliest pecan varieties to be harvested.