Pecan harvest booming despite hardship, lack of rain

PIGGOTT, AR (KAIT) - Pecan pie just got a whole lot sweeter.

Tim Holland has enjoyed his most plentiful crop in 5 years, despite historic drought conditions.

He's shifting into high gear, shaking down 21 acres of pecan trees as kitchen ovens across Region 8 fill with pecan pies.

Fortunately, Holland's orchard was virtually unharmed during an exceptional lack of rain.

He says irrigation paid off.

"Irrigation, again, did fairly well. In some areas, it's hard to get water, even if you're irrigated. Some of the pumps were going dry, some of the wells were going dry. So, they couldn't get to water."

The abundance of this turkey-day favorite means buyers will enjoy a $2 to $4 price drop per pound.

This is a welcome sight on the heels of last year's rainy autumn, which left his orchard submerged under 1 foot of floodwater.

"We had a good set of pecans in the trees, but when the winds and the rains come, it just all went to the ditch. We're just guessing we lost 20 or 30 thousand pounds."

The torrential rain of last November sent the pecan harvest plummeting to 200 pounds per acre as floodwater washed away up to 80 percent of the crop.

Holland adds that they're on the opposite end of the spectrum now with the orchard producing 2,000 pounds per acre.

Experts are predicting up to 325 million pounds of pecans to flood the national market.

"270 to 300 thousand pound is more average, so we're looking at somewhere between 5 and 25 million more pounds."

Holland says the effects of a solid yield are far-reaching, this year's crop won't really be felt until next year.

"A lot of times, what you see in the grocery store is what's leftover from last year, in cold storage. Where that big effect is, is what candy makers and people who sell gift pack pecans, that's where the impact's really at."

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