Pecan Harvest Begins in South Africa

 
hartswater south africa pecans

A few kilometers off of hwy 12 about 4 hours drive southwest of Johannesburg you will find a beautiful, small town by the name of Hartswater pronounced by the locals "hautzvauter". Hartswater is one of the largest pecan producing regions in South Afrcia. The area is home to thousands of acres of newly planted trees as well as many acres of producing trees. Hartswater is home to the "Vaalharts Irrigation Scheme" which is one of the largest planned irrigation developments in the world. While in Hartswater and surrounding areas I was able to visit with many growers, accumulators and a couple of shellers. I was quite impressed with what I saw. I did not see anything spectacularly better than what I see on a regular basis here in the US and Mexico, but what I did see was a lot of enthusiasm; a lot more than what I expected.  The US in some shape fashion or form still handles roughly 80% of the world’s supply of pecans. So I guess I had some preconceived notions about the South African pecan production before I arrived, being that they produce only around 3.8 – 4.5% of the worlds pecan supply. I don’t know what I thought I would find; maybe some smaller farms, a few smaller accumulators that had limited knowledge of a market the US dominates. I will be the first to say it, my preconceived notions were wrong. Sure, I did see some early market participants such as growers just getting into their first “real” harvest, and new accumulators courting growers and buyers, with that enthusiastic glow, still learning their own product along with the customer. But these guys were pumped. I mean it, you could tell these people knew it. They understood how much money is there to be made and they were there to make it. One of the more impressive facilities I visited was a farm a couple hours outside of Kimberley. We drove up to a grand entrance, the security opened the gates, we drove for about three miles’ past hectare (2.47ac) after hectare of newly planted pecan trees. When we arrived at the office, I had the privilege of being given a tour of a brand new, state of the art pecan shelling facility that the owners at Green Valley Nuts had just installed. They had just purchased some in-shell and were testing out the machinery. The welcoming I have received in South Africa has been very humbling. I look forward to bringing you more updates as this harvest unfolds over the next months. There is talk of a lighter than anticipated crop but overall optimism is high.

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