Many growers have put their 2012 crop in cold storage hoping when prices will rebound later this year.  “Western growers are holding a huge amount of pecans,” Arnold says. “I’d guess around 22 million or more pounds of nuts have gone into storage and won’t be released until later this season.”

He figures the in-shell price of pecans would have to rise 20 cents a pound or more to motivate growers to sell stored pecans.

“After getting their storage bills, some guys may pull the trigger and sell their nuts,” Arnold says. “Some may wait until the new crop size projections come out in May to decide whether to sell then or continue holding. Other guys may carry their crop over into this coming fall, hoping prices will come up by then.

“The price problem is nothing new,” Arnold says. “We have had large fluctuations of the supply of nuts from one year to the next.  One major reason is the variability in production of native trees in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.

“Before the latest drought they have experienced in those areas, we used to see a huge native crop come in every four to eight years or so,” he says. “That had a big impact on supply and, in turn, prices. It makes it difficult for food manufacturers, who’d like to use pecans in their products, to project and control their costs. Hopefully, as more pecan acres go into production, we can have more stable production year to year, as in the almond and walnut industries.”