This year the pecan market will be making what some are calling a major shift in the industry’s dynamics. Pecan growers across the US plan to harvest and clean their pecans at their usual breakneck pace, but one thing they are planning to do differently is the next step in the process. Selling their pecans. Most pecan growers, in years past, take their pecans to market as soon as they get enough harvested, then auction the pecans off in truckload size lots. They say this makes it cheaper for the pecan buyers to ship the load to their next destination allowing for more money to paid to the pecan grower. “We’ll usually put together about 7-8 [semi] loads before we have a sale”. “That’s why we’re adding on to the shed,… hold more”. The shed as he calls it, is a large metal building with loading ramps where they neatly store pecans after bagging and wait for auction.
However, this year will be different. The pecan industry is growing in size and the US pecan crop continues to get larger; for many years, pecan growers have relied upon the pecan spot market prices, at time of auction, to sell their pecans. This is changing. With an increase in crop size and a decrease in pecan accumulators and shellers, there is simply a lack of capital (pecan buying power) in the market to purchase the pecan crop at harvest. One pecan grower we spoke with said. “We’ve been talking to accumulators and shellers both, some have offered us better terms, to hold “. And he’s right, one pecan accumulator we spoke with said there is a shortage of pecan halves on the market right now. Shellers are buying up the last of the South African pecan crop so they can keep their plants running. This is of course good news for the pecan industry, who, like other tree nuts have been hit with tariff increases in the global market. “We still have a strong domestic market and we have food companies researching new pecan products in the industry.” Said one south Texas pecan buyer we spoke with. “The China/US trade war is an issue for us too, but not as significant as other nuts, who are more dependent on China.” “Western pecan prices are still strong, some eastern varieties may see lower prices at the onset of harvest, that’s why a lot of those guys are planning to hold.” “We’re booking cold storage space now.” Many larger pecan growers in the industry already hold pecans to sell throughout the year. Now small to mid-size pecan growers are taking note and following suit.