U.S. Pecan Market Insight

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U.S. Pecan Market Insight

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Michael Gunderson, PhD Blaine Nelson Tom Karmel
APR 15, 2021

SUMMARY

The U.S. pecan industry has endured trade wars, hurricanes, and import competition in recent years. However, we still expect U.S. growers will likely benefit from positive long-term fundamentals. U.S. commercial pecan producers have increased yields and profitability by converting native orchards to more improved tree varieties. Additionally, the U.S. already accounts for a significant share of global production. And as pecans’ popularity continues to rise among a growing global middle class, increasingly productive U.S. growers are well-positioned to capitalize on expanding demand.

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Improving Productivity  

The composition of the U.S. pecan industry has shifted significantly over the last ten years. Historically, pecans were produced in native orchards in Georgia and Texas, which generate highly variable output due to alternate bearing. In the early 2000s, more modern orchards began to appear in Arizona and New Mexico. Lower rainfall in the region forced growers to invest in irrigation and more actively manage their orchards, compared to native groves. Growers in the U.S. Southwest planted improved tree varieties and optimized management practices like spacing, irrigation systems, and harvest techniques. The climate also tends to be more stable in that region allowing farmers to better control disease. As a result, Arizona and New Mexico growers have achieved higher yields than those in Georgia—typically the leading U.S. pecan producing state (Figure 1).