It is a gentle reminder that pecan season is here when you begin to see the “We Buy Pecans” signs grace the front of many local businesses here in the Deep South. Typically the signs appear in front of small town feed stores, convenient shops or lumber yards. And typically it is the same businesses year-after-year who do the buying. Local residents get accustomed to bringing their daily pick to these locations, have their bag or bucket weighed and paid, cash, on the spot for a few hours’ worth of pecan picking.
In Louisiana, we have what is referred to as a large “yard crop” of pecans. And that simply means many people have good pecan producing trees in their yards. During the pecan season, from October through December, it is not uncommon for these home owners to pick the pecans they need for cooking or enjoying fresh from the shell, and selling the rest. For many people this provides for a little extra spending money at the holidays. Of course pecan prices fluctuate, for example, this year buyers are paying around $.60 per pound whereas just last year they were paying $.85 to $.90 per pound. The price has all to do with the current conditions of the pecan crop and the amount of supply that is in the market. Pecan trees will yield varying amounts of pecans depending on a handful of factors like weather patterns and climatic conditions, spacing, watering, pests and diseases. And it is important to know the pecan trees are alternate bearing, meaning their yields will vary from year to year. Prices reflect these conditions year to year.
Aside from pecan trees dropping God’s gift to South on the ground each fall, is the fact that the trees make wonderful shade trees, so there is no surprise that many Southerners will consider planting pecan trees on their property. I have been to a handful of bar-b-cue cookouts and crawfish boils in the summers that were enjoyed under the cool canopy of a huge Southern pecan tree.
Getting back to these “pecan buyers”, we like to refer to them as accumulators. They go around the South accumulating pecans from these small buying stations at feed stores, convenient shops and lumber yards and sell the pecans to shellers. Shellers are the processors that actually crack and shell pecans sold to grocery stores, commercial bakeries, school and church fundraisers, the food service industry or the gift pack industry. Like most any other product, many hands touch the product before it ends up in the consumer’s hand, or mouth we should say.
Personally, I love that time of year when the “We Buy Pecans” signs start to pop up. It’s our signal that our time of the year has arrived and that we are about to start doing what we love to do – sell big, beautiful pecans to a long list of loyal pecan lovers.