Arkansas pecan crop harvest begins
BLACKWELL, Ark. (AP)--The long dry spell this summer has Arkansas pecan growers concerned about just what will fall from the trees in this year's harvest, which has just begun or is about to start.
Many pecan growers say they expect a good crop this season despite the cool spring and drought.
"We look good in quantity," said Thurman Smith, who has an orchard of about 3,000 pecan trees near Bradford in White County. He has yet to begin his harvest. "But I'm not sure about the quality because of the drought that we have had."
Robert Carruthers, who has a 160-acre pecan orchard in Conway County, started his harvest recently. He expects to produce 150,000 to 180,000 pounds of pecans this year.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Arkansas is forecast to produce 3 million pounds of pecans or about 1 percent of the nation's 288.7-million-pound crop. In Arkansas the pecan crop is concentrated along the Arkansas, Mississippi, Red, St. Francis and White rivers.
The top three pecan states are Georgia, Texas and New Mexico.
Sandra Justice, whose family owns and operates the Dermott-based Justice Nut Co., said this year's harvest is about 10 days late.
"We would normally start processing the third or fourth week of October, out of south Louisiana, but a lot of their crop got blown away, and we had a cool spring, so the harvest is kind of late," she said.
Leon Swihart, a Leachville farmer who has a 70-acre pecan orchard, said he thinks he'll have a good crop.
"It was dry in the summer, but about a month ago it rained 212 inches and that helped fill the pecans out to where were going to have good quality," Swihart said.
Pecan trees tend to produce nuts in alternate, or biennial, cycles. One year is a small crop followed by a large yield the next year. This year is a big year, Swihart said.
Bob Corwin, a pecan specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Market News Service in Thomasville, Ga., said this year's pecan crop looks to be a bumper crop. He said prices are expected to moderate this year.