The USDA released the December 2019 pecan cold storage holdings in the US and the data show that in-shell pecan stocks have dropped to 82% of what they were in the same month last year.
Last years US pecan harvest took a big hit with Georgia, the nation’s largest producer*, losing over half its crop to a category 4 hurricane named Micheal, that ripped through the southern and middle sections of the state before exiting through the Carolinas and into the Atlantic.
The massive loss of pecan production has lead to more plantings to replace the lost pecan production, however newly planted orchards will take an average of 7 years ,when properly managed, to come into commercial production.
The massive losses were immediately felt by the producing farmers in the area, but the industry has done a good job at keeping the supply losses from heavily affecting the supply chain. Many local buyers had to source from areas further north in the state while larger buyers were able to source from further west where production is on the rise.
The industry is just now starting to see the effects of the production loss in the numbers. As the American Pecan staff continues to work to increase demand, producers are now seeing the cold storage numbers dropping. While the shelled pecans in the supply chain continue steady, with an uptick, in-shell supplies, raw material, are not keeping up with the output of the finished product.
Buyers need not panic though. While the raw material supply is suffering slightly, the quantity in cold storage is enough to supply the projected first quarter demand as well as into the second quarter of 2020. If the demand continues to increase as projected, higher quality raw pecans may become “slim pickings” by the third quarter of this year.
The western US is almost finished harvest and most growers are sending large portions of their raw pecans to cold storage to help mitigate the possible shortage of quality pecans for the third and fourth quarters of 2020.
For now producers are taking steps to ensure a steady supply of pecans are available to commercial buyers, but with demand increasing, we will have to reassess the supply capacity again at the end of the second quarter this year.
* 2019 was the first year in decades Georgia was not the largest pecan producing state, with New Mexico taking the lead after hurricane Micheal hit Georgia