What is in this article?:
- New record for New Mexico pecans
- China matters
New Mexico pecan growers are reporting optimistic harvest numbers now that pecan season has wrapped up in nut-studded Doña Ana County.
USDA is reporting pecan demand from China, a major boost to the U.S. export market in recent years, remained high in 2013. Demand from China may have actually grown but Mexican pecan exports increased dramatically to fill the shorter U.S. harvest. Industry experts say Mexican growers can produce a cheaper crop because of lower labor costs and they can be more price-competitive to foreign buyers. U.S. pecans remain in demand, however, because of superior quality and, in some circumstances, high meat yield.
Also competing for the China in-shell demand are South African farmers. Production there has increased significantly in recent years.
In New Mexico, pecan growers say they are optimistic that demand will remain high in the coming years and that New Mexico's production will increase steadily, provided ample water is available for pecan trees and serious outbreaks of case bearers and disease can be avoided.
While irrigation water from the Rio Grande was very almost non-existent in 2013, Doña Ana County growers were able to water trees adequately with groundwater, at least for the first half of the year. Add to that an exceptionally wet monsoon season in late summer and substantial early fall rains, pecan growers across the region reported that trees flourished and nut quality was guaranteed.
In addition, New Mexico State University Extension specialists report a boom in new tree planting in 2006 has finally paid big dividends for growers as these trees have now fully matured and produced healthy yields for the first time this season, a trend that should continue in the years ahead.
No numbers are available yet for the Texas, Oklahoma or Georgia production, but industry experts are reporting Georgia's crop suffered from not only an off production year, but also because many trees were hit hard last year with pecan scab, a disease that can occur when trees receive too much rain.
Georgia is traditionally the nation's highest producer of pecans each year, but with lower production numbers in Texas, usually in the number two spot nationwide, New Mexico, when all the numbers are in, may be crowned the new 'big winner' of the 2013 pecan crop year.
Overall for 2013, industry analysts suggest the total 2013 pecan harvest could be as low as 210 million pounds of in-shell pecans nationwide, an incredibly low number compared to most years over the last decade.