Tariffs take toll on Texas pecans

By Jessica Domel

It has been a tough year for Texas pecan growers.

Mother Nature’s whims, pests, increased tariffs and more pecans on the market have depressed prices to the point some growers will have a tough time making a living.

“We’ve had a lot of rain during the fall, and that’s when growers are harvesting. So the flooding and everything means growers couldn’t get into the orchards to harvest,” Blair Krebs, executive director of the Texas Pecan Growers Association, said in an interview with the Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network.

Heavy rainfall can lead to poor nut quality, make pecans more susceptible to fungus, and wash pecans away.

Some areas, like the Trans-Pecos region, battled pecan nut casebearer—the most damaging nut-feeding insect for pecans.

But Mother Nature and pests weren’t the worst foe Texas pecan growers faced this year. Retaliatory tariffs were.

“The tariffs went from seven percent to about 47 percent to China,” Krebs said. “China was our largest market for export. With that tariff, there’s very little going into China currently.”

Lower demand for Texas pecans internationally led to lower prices, which some say have reached levels that haven’t been seen since the 1970s.

“Prices have dropped considerably for growers,” Krebs said. “While the input cost for growers to grow a nice pecan haven’t changed, the prices have gotten lower.”

Supplies from other regions, like Mexico and South Africa, have also entered the U.S. market, further depressing prices despite lower supplies in Texas, Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

“There are some growers who, given the difficulty that it takes to harvest and prices, may choose not to harvest because the input costs are so high to get the crop in,” Krebs said. “

On smaller family farms, the margins are small. I think a lot of them will make it through, and we’re here to assist them.”

This is the biggest time of the year for most pecan growers with holiday favorites like pecan pie on many Texans’ menus. Krebs encourages shoppers to consider buying Texas-grown pecans now and freezing them for year-round enjoyment.

“It’s a very cultural thing. Pecans are the only native commercially grown nut to the United States,” Krebs said. “A lot of people have warm feelings associated with pecans and pecan pies at Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

To help consumers find Texas pecans, the growers association has a pecan trail map on their website. To find it, click the “Where to Buy Pecans” link on the left-side of TPGA.org.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.