As pecan growers in the US prepare for 2019 – 2020 pecan harvest season that will begin in roughly 2 weeks for early varieties, Chinese pecan buyers are scouting orchards and sharpening their pencils for what be a limited pecan crop.
The 2019 – 2020 pecan harvest season is only days away, with early varieties like the Excel & Pawnee set to fully ripen at the middle to end of September. While the in-shell pecan market has been slower over the last year due to a trade war, the in-shell market has now picked up with Chinese buyers showing far more interest than in last years crop. Last years pecan crop sold mostly to local shellers who use a combination of Mexican and American pecans in order to keep downward pressure on the in-shell pecan market prices. With China largely sitting out of last years market, the pecan shellers labor union was largely able to keep pecan prices at their lowest in more than five years while exports and domestic consumption continued to rise. The American pecan growers and shellers have been playing this zero sum game for many years until the pecan growers organized a marketing team (US Pecan Growers Council) to find new buyers for American Pecans, they struck gold in China and developed the single largest export market for pecans, and what’s more, they did not need the pecan shellers labor union to deliver this product. Pecan prices paid to farmers climbed to record highs and stayed there for close to a decade. That is until last year when pecan growers lost their most profitable customers (China Nut Roasters) in the trade war and were forced to sell their pecans through the shellers yet again. The pecan shellers labor union used the trade war to push pecan prices (on the farm) to their lowest in years. This year may be different though, Chinese traders, importers and buyers have been much more active this year in the early season, showing interest in American Pecans yet again. While the tariff on Mexican and South African pecans going to China is still significantly lower than American pecans, the supply from those regions is still not enough when it comes to oversized nuts, a favorite among Chinese roaster. China buyers have been active in Mexico in the Sonora area with early crop prices for Oversize being offered as high as 2.60, but with limited quantities, buyers are now making inquiries on the American pecan crop. If China buys pecan quantities similar to pre-trade war, this years crop could get very limited very fast.