The 2004 pecan crop in Oklahoma and North Texas was historic. It was estimated in the fall that Oklahoma would harvest 28 million pounds of pecans for 2004. That was 22 million pounds more than the previous year. All along the Red River and a line from Ardmore to Tulsa is Oklahoma's major pecan-producing region. We as consultants can gauge the demand for a crop by the number of requests for establishment and by the number of calls received prior to total crop harvested. The number of calls received is cyclical due to price and demand for that crop.
We need to list a few factors that make this crop interesting. In 2003, Oklahoma had a lack of a crop or a small crop, and this set up the trees to produce a potentially large crop in 2004. Georgia's crop was small due to weather problems, and the Texas forecast was for a small crop. This year's crop price approached the 1992 price (see Figure 1).
Land owners can take advantage of this situation if a crop is noted on the trees. You may not have a good handle on the price, which is reported by the USDA, at this time. You notice that you have a large crop all through the season, and you find yourself with pecans and no method of harvesting them. Eddie Funderburg, one of the Noble Foundation's specialists, has begun compiling a list of custom pecan harvesters. (Note: Custom harvesters within a 100-mile radius of Ardmore who are interested in being on this list can contact the Foundation at (580) 223-5810.) These are potential custom harvesters that could be contacted by the landowners to set up a crop share lease to harvest pecans. Contracts for crop share lease options can be obtained from one of the Noble Foundation's ag economists.
Other options that may fit your situation or operation are:
- A small self-powered drag-type harvester made for four wheelers or lawn tractors. These models are less expensive than the larger drag-type harvesters used in commercial operations.
- An even smaller pecan harvester, which is pushed like a lawn mower. As it rolls over the nuts, they are wedged between the spokes of the harvester. As the spoke wheel rotates, the nut is dislodged into a basket. This type is excellent for a site where bigger equipment is not allowed due to tracking the soil. The same manufacturer produces a large model that can be pulled behind a four wheeler or lawn mower.
At any rate, if you have pecan trees, when the price reaches a historic point, you need to be ready to take advantage of the situation.