Thursday, February 28, 2013

Shipping out the 2012 Crop

Loading pecans in a hopper-bottom truck
   The 2012 pecan crop at the Pecan Experiment Field ended up being the largest crop we have ever harvested in history. We loaded out a full trunk load (50,000 lbs) last week and have a partial load to go out this week (photo at left). If we only had a little more rainfall during last summer our total tonnage would have been even greater.

   The down side of the 2012 crop year has been the total collapse of the pecan market. Prices started low and fell further as the season progressed. Just like Wall Street, the pecan industry periodically goes through a market correction following years of inflated inshell prices (2010 & 2011). Growers blame the shellers. Shellers blame the banks. Banks blame the Government. But in the end, extreme price fluctuations hurt the entire industry.

Our pecans were fed into a belt elevator
    The crop years of 1990-1993 was last time the pecan industry passed through a period of extreme price fluctuations. When the dust settled, we had fewer but larger growers. The number of shellers decreased dramatically, but the remaining processing plants increased in size and efficiency (one air cracker replaced 10 mechanical crackers). Only one thing is for certain, the pecan industry will continue to evolve and present new challenges for everyone involved.