Barring any rain or snow the last half of November, New Mexico pecan grower Mike Prude expects to begin harvesting a bin-busting crop by Dec. 1.
Prude, operations manager for Seven Rivers, Inc., grows 850 acres of pecans near Carlsbad in New Mexico’s Pecos Valley. This is an on-year for the trees.
“The nuts have filled out well and this is probably the biggest crop we’ve ever set,” says the Pecos Valley grower.
Shuck split started in early November. Prude stopped irrigating his trees on Nov. 10 to encourage the trees to shut down further. That’s when the first sub-freezing temperatures of the fall helped speed up drying of the nuts and leaves. By mid-month, all but about 10 percent of the shucks had split.
Tree shaking typically should begin in early December.
Wet weather at harvest is generally unwelcome, but not necessarily this year.
“Because of the drought, groundwater supplies are at historically low levels,” Prude says. “I’d rather wet weather wait until after harvest and then bring us a whole bunch of rain or snow. But I’ll take it whatever comes our way. Another dry winter would put us in unchartered territory. I’m not 100 percent sure we’d have enough water to start the next crop year.”
He expects pecan prices for his 2012 crop to be off some from last year. “I’ve seen quotes all over the board, depending on whether the nuts will be sold domestically or shipped overseas,” Prude says. “A fair price for growers this year would be around $4 a point. I’m afraid we might not get that, at least to start with. Maybe prices will move higher later, depending on how much crop we have.”