The American Pecan Council Releases Preliminary 2016 Crop Data Indicating Crop Considerably Larger Than USDA Final Figure

April 24, 2018

As many of you know, one of the functions of the newly established American Pecan Council (APC) is to collect and disseminate pecan crop data.  Year-end reporting forms for the 2016 crop were due back to the APC by mid-March.  While there are still a few handlers who have yet to submit their forms, based on the assessments collected to date, on Monday, April 16th, the APC released a preliminary 2016 final crop figure of 288,665,284 pounds, approximately 7% MORE than the USDA final figure of 268,770,000.  Why the difference?  Because the USDA figures are based on voluntary submissions. The APC figures are based on actual receipts.  As has been noted before, the industry has been very bad at submitting data to the USDA. In most years, the response rate has been less than 30%.  The failure to submit the data forces the USDA to make special calls to each reporting entity to get the necessary information. However, once they get to an 80% response rate, they stop calling. This not only significantly increases the cost of collecting the data, it dramatically decreases its accuracy. For those who like to complain about the USDA’s data, or having to pay their assessment, this is just the first example as to why the industry needs the American Pecan Council. It is also a great reason for the industry to complete and submit the survey forms sent out by the USDA earlier this month. The data from said forms will be used to publish the final 2017 crop data in the Noncitrus Fruits and Nuts 2017 Summary to be released in late June or early July.  It will also be used in the establishment of the Council’s 2018/2019 budget and the Grower assessment.  A such, it is in the best interest of every sheller, handler and grower to make sure that they complete the forms, with the best possible information, and return them to the USDA in a timely manner.

Earlier this month, the Foreign Agricultural Service released the February pecan export figures.  As has been the case for most of the 2017 crop year, overall pecan exports continue to outpace 2016 figures; up approximately 6.3%.  Shipments to China led the way, up 4.5% over 2016.  However, their share of total exports was down almost 1% indicating increased consumption across the export spectrum.  This is particularly encouraging when one looks at inshell exports.  Last year, China accounted for 82.3% of US inshell exports.  This year, that figure has dropped to 80.3%.

Mexico continues to ship significant quantities of pecans to the US.  Through April 18th, Mexico shipped 173.1 million pounds of pecans (inshell basis) to the US.  Based on US inshell exports to Mexico, that equates to almost 160 million pounds (net). While that is still below last year’s record, it is more than most within the industry had expected. Based on currently available information, this probably means that the Mexican crop was larger than originally forecast.

Finally, based on yesterday’s release of the USDA March Cold Storage Holdings, it continues to appear that both the Mexican and US crops were considerably larger than originally forecast. Three months ago, the 2018 cold storage holdings trailed 2017 by over 20 million pounds.  Using a 50% conversion rate, the industry now has 9.5 million more pounds in cold storage than a year ago (there’s not much difference if a 44% conversion rate is used).  Certain segments of the industry would argue that the figures have been ‘manipulated’ to force prices lower. However, it’s hard to make that argument when exports are up, shipments continue to be good and Mexican pecans continue to pour across the border.  As evidenced by the data recently released by the APC, it is the October USDA crop estimate that would appear to have been manipulated.  The monthly release of APC data can’t come a moment too soon.