The pecan harvest in North America is only days away as the Pawnee variety begin to open in South Georgia and North Texas; pecan growers in these areas will begin to harvest in as little as 14 days.
This year’s pecan growing season has been a rollercoaster ride to say the least. While mother nature was not as violent this year as compared to previous years tropical storms and hurricanes bringing record breaking winds and floods to parts of Georgia, Alabama and Texas; it has been the political climate that has caused turmoil in the markets this year. With the escalating trade war between the US and China, American pecan growers have now found their single largest trading partner reluctant to enter the market in any significant way due to a new 47% tariff. This new tariff has had far reaching effects on the global pecan market, causing the price of pecans, to prematurely plummet in south Africa almost overnight. Now with the pecan harvest just around the corner for North America, pecan prices that have been stable, but seem to have a lot of downward pressure. The pecan shellers in the US have been buying the remaining south African crop in order to keep supplies available for customers, while allowing more room to negotiate prices here in the US and Mexico. There has been some contracting of in-shell pecans here in the US and Mexico, but it has been minimal compared to past years. Mexico is already harvesting its native crop and prices are around the $1.00 to $1.10 range per in-shell pound. However, to put this in perspective the moisture is around 8%, the nut count is around the 100 range and the meat yield is around 36%, so not exactly a high quality nut. However, we are seeing more interest in pecans of Mexican origin from Chinese buyers. At the Dia del Nogalero conference last week we did see quite a few Chinese pecan buyers at the conference. This is not surprising due to the fact that the tariff on pecans coming from Mexico into China is 39% less than pecans coming from the US currently. With all that being said, China is still expected to buy large quantities of both in-shell and shelled pecans from the US; the pecan processors in China have continued to increase pecan processing capacity due to the increasing demand buy the Chinese consumer. Pecan exports to other countries are still strong and increasing in many cases. The increased demand for pecans is definitely needed this year with the US and Mexico expected to produce large crops. Only days away, this year’s pecan harvest will hopefully be smoother than the political climate leading up to the harvest.