Harvest season in the Southern US and Mexico is always a busy time of year. Pecan nut growers spend the entire year preparing for this time of year. This year has definitely held challenges for pecan growers and buyers alike. Many pecan nut growers are currently filling contracts with their harvest but a few issues have made filling those contracts a little more difficult harvest season. On September 11, just before pecan harvest was set to begin, tropical storm Irma hit the Southeastern pecan belt causing massive amounts of damage to the 2017 – 2018 pecan crop. In some cases, in the Lowndes county area growers lost entire orchards. However, throughout the state of Georgia pecan nut growers lost around 30% of their total crop. The nuts that were knocked out prematurely stayed on the ground until the clean-up could be completed to allow harvest to begin.
Now that growers are well into harvest in the Southeastern region, the damages of tropical storm Irma are being realized. Many pecan growers are dealing with “stick tights” and discoloration in the nuts as they travel through the pecan cleaning plants. The results of this is causing growers to “blow” the pecans harder to increase quality by removing as much of the imperfect pecans as possible. The other result of this is that the B-Grade pecans increase in quality. In years past B-Grade pecans are sold off at little to nothing to buyers to likely be shelled out and inspected for discoloration. The difference this year is that by blowing the pecans harder on the picking tables the B-Grade quality increases. Buyers have reported that they are finding better quality in the B-Grade pecans and are paying more for what is usually a second-rate pecan.