USDA Releases Final 2016 Pecan Crop Estimate - 268.77 Million Pounds (Inshell Basis)

June 28, 2017

The USDA released their annual Noncitrus Fruit and Nuts 2016 Summary a few weeks early this year.  Based on their survey figures, they estimate the 2016 crop to have been 268.77 million pounds, inshell basis, up from their October estimate of 262.7 million pounds.  Based on currently available information, the 2016 pecan supply (US & Mexico) was as follows:

2016 Carry-In                                            129,097,000

2016 US Crop                                            268,770,000

Mexican Imports (NET estimate)           218,000,000

2016 Total (estimate)                               615,867,000*

*Note: 2015 Total Supply was approximately 591,732 million pounds.  2017 supply is estimated at approximately 642 million pounds

While the USDA’s annual report usually reflects total industry production, this year the USDA only produced a partial figure, or estimate.  For those who have reviewed the publication, crop figures were only included for eight of the fifteen producing states. Why?  A failure of the pecan industry to submit requested data and the lack of adequate funds to go after those who refused to submit it.  As such, the USDA decided to make the data fit the amount of money available. While the USDA correctly points out that the data for the eight reported states is statistically adequate for projection purposes, it understates actual production; in this case by approximately ten million pounds.

For years, the pecan industry has complained about the lack of good data from the USDA, yet a big reason for the inaccurate data goes back to the fact that many within the industry, particularly the growers, refuse to supply any data when it is requested.  I will not endeavor to cover the myriad of reasons given for not submitting the data, but with the newly formed American Pecan Council trying to figure out what it will cost to get accurate data, and the cost estimates being provided by the USDA inflated to take into account the amount of time and effort it will take to track down those who refuse to submit it, the industry is now going to have to pay for years of playing fast and loose with the USDA requests.  There was an old Ford Motor Company commercial that ended with the phrase, “You can pay me now, or pay me later.”  For the pecan industry, ‘later’ has arrived.