They are a holiday favorite that people love all year round. But a shortage of pecans is a growing cause for concern.
Dr. Charles Graham of the LSU AgCenter has one of the coolest jobs on the planet. Among other duties, he runs the operation of the Louisiana Pecan Research Station in southern Caddo Parish. About a month ago, Graham published a report stating that Louisiana's pecan crop would be below expectation. The culprit is a familiar problem.
“When we got to August here came the weather. What happens in August that is the time they are filling. I had 12 inches of rain in the month of August. I had cloudy weather day after day after day,” Graham said.
It is the sort of the mad scientist approach that really breaks down this bit of horticulture.
“So the trees really need lots of sunshine and photosynthesis and fill those nuts. So as a result we saw what is shuck decline and the pecans and shucks start dying pre-maturely,” Graham said.
So the crops' non-development has resulted in the decrease of pecans and again it is the all in the numbers of what these trees produce. So Graham cracks the bad news.
“So when I look at our forecast statewide, originally of 15 million pounds now I would say 7 or 8 million pounds. Almost cut in half,” Graham said.
The conversation then steered to prices, thinking less numbers would jump up the price. Not so says Graham.
“Generally, you would expect that but you have to realize with prices and pecans quality goes hand in hand with price. So poor quality means low price. Pecan prices over the last week have declined about 4 percent,” he said.
So for the average consumer the question may arise as to whether there might be a shortage. Few could cannot imagine a holiday season without pecans for baking or other needs. Turns out there is no real concern of going without.
“Most of the people in Louisiana I have talked to have not been shipping anything out of state, selling most their product in the state. So you should be availability of pecans. And as far as the larger stores are concerned, the west is starting to harvest. New Mexico, Arizona. New Mexico is typically the third largest in the country and Arizona the fourth largest. So there will a lot of product coming from them because they did not have the weather issues that we had in the southeast,” Graham said.