The Crop Corner—June 2021
The Crop Corner, a monthly report from The Pecan Newsletter, provides a brief update on the market, prices, and current crop.
Created and published by Pecan South editors, The Pecan Newsletter provides weekly harvest and market updates from September through January by compiling reports from growers and market information from reliable sources worldwide. The Crop Corner follows these same standards and techniques and provides seasonal updates for readers.
As we enter June, growers temper their optimism with the expectation of the annual June Drop. A cluster of five pollinated flowers can easily thin to one or zero. Almost all cultivars undergo four nut drops during the season.
“The severity of these nut drops varies by cultivar and sometimes by year within a single variety. The first drop occurs in May, shortly after pollination, and results from weak flowers and/or low energy reserves within the tree. This drop is inversely related to shoot length or the stress level imposed on the tree in the previous season. Often the first drop goes unnoticed in many orchards,” Dr. Lenny Wells wrote in Pecan South’s June 2020 issue. “The second drop, occurring in June, is the most commonly recognized. The June drop is brought on primarily by a lack of egg fertilization.”
The third and fourth drops will come in July and August, respectively.
This month producers continue to fertilize their trees, dive deeper into disease and insect management, and increase irrigation. Producers will also check on the grafts they made earlier in the season. After the drop, growers will develop a better understanding of their crop size.
For the second year in a row, the entire state of Oklahoma was hit by a late-season freeze right in the middle of budbreak. This radiational freeze struck April 20 and 21. Temperatures went from within the mid-70s F to the 20s.
Some growers took drastic measures to mix the air and protect their trees. From using elevated fans to flying helicopters through their orchards, producers did all they could to keep their orchards warm.
Many growers were hit harder this year than last year. The amount and type of damage vary by location and variety. Varieties—like ‘Caddo’ and ‘Oconee’—reportedly show more damage than others like Kanza. Trees sitting in areas where the cold air was blocked from moving out of the orchard—i.e., near buildings, fences, overgrown wooded areas, etc.—will also exhibit more damage. In some instances, the entire tree was frozen back, especially younger trees.
Some trees began putting out new shoots along trunks in early May; growers also spotted new buds developing. Other trees that made it through the freeze better appeared to be growing well and leafing out. Oklahoma producers will continue to monitor their orchards as the season progresses.
Although Oklahoma growers may have the potential for a crop this year, they will wait to see if enough catkins will sprout after this freeze. Trees may not have good pollination, which would limit the 2021 crop and prevent good fruit set.
Following the freeze, growers in Oklahoma and North Texas faced tornados, flooding, and baseball-sized hail the last week of April. The hail storm damaged some pecan orchards, shattered windows, and wrecked vehicles.
USDA NASS released May 5 its Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts—2020 Summary. These preliminary and annual summaries use data gathered from monthly grower surveys to provide information on acreage, yield, production, use, price, and value by states of the noncitrus fruit and nut crop by state. It is important to note that USDA-NASS only collects data from Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas for this summery.
According to the 2020 summary, U.S. bearing acreage reached 413,000 acres with an average yield per acre of 739 pounds. The utilized production for 2020 totaled 305 million pounds.
The average annual price in 2020 was $1.43, compared to $1.84 in 2019. Lower prices also dropped the total value of the pecan crop.
Market & Prices:
The market appears to have started to pick up over the last month with prices increasing. Reports indicate prices fluctuate between $3.10 and $3.15 a point. This rise in prices may be connected to a decrease in available inventory.
This shift in inventory is reflected in the American Pecan Council’s most recent Pecan Position Report for March 2021, released at the end of April.
The Pecan Industry Position Report for March 2021 features the latest data on pecan shipments, commitments, and exports from U.S. handlers. The federal marketing order requires U.S. handlers to submit this information to the American Pecan Council and gives the Council the power to gather industry data.
March 2021 Position Report states that the Net Open Position—or the amount of pecans in U.S. handler inventory available for purchase at the end of the reporting month—is 30,665,789 pounds, which is a 30 percent decrease from February’s Net Open Position.
Through March, handlers increase shipments to groceries and retail stores while also reporting more commitments to ship both inshell and shelled.
U.S. handlers also purchased fewer pecans from other production areas this March. From Sept. 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, U.S. handlers reportedly bought a total of 38,039,068 pecans from outside of the United States. This total marks a 48 percent decrease from the previous crop year.
U.S. pecan exports skyrocketed in March. The February report showed exports were on the rise, but the March 2021 position report places total exports above 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 levels for the first time since October.
The most recent report—the April 2021 Position Report—is expected to be released at the end of May, at the time this issue was mailed out to readers. Interested parties may access these reports online at AmericanPecan.com under the “For Industry” tab.