Chinese demand for pecans at this time seems strong. Size will play a large role in export prices offered to growers, and our size is highly variable this year, largely as a result of scab pressure early and dry weather during nut sizing.
Two weeks ago early contract offers I had been hearing from various growers were at $2.20-$2.35 in-shell for Stuart and $2.75 for Desirable. Over the past week, these prices seem to have gone up to around $2.40-$2.50 for Stuart and $2.85-$2.95 for Desirable. I have heard blends priced in the $2.40-$2.45 range. Again, size will be the determining factor in price. Small nuts will not bring high prices.
Nut development has accelerated rapidly over the last 2 weeks. Shuck split began on Pawnee over the weekend in south Georgia, which means harvest of that variety will probably begin in 2 1/2 to 3 weeks. This means that nut maturity is still about 10 days or so behind normal. The calendar date of nut maturity for a given variety varies from one year to the next because the date of fruit maturity is dependent upon the accumulation of heat units in the early spring. Our spring in Georgia was even cooler in 2014 than we saw in 2013.
I expect Stuart and Schley varieties to be ready for harvest at roughly the same time this year. ‘Stuart’ nut maturity and shuck split is more prolonged and staggered, while that of ‘Schley’ is a little more uniform. Nut maturity in Schley normally precedes that of Stuart by about 2 days on average. We had a pretty cold winter last year and this caused nut maturity of Stuart and Schley to be similar.
Following mild winters Stuart nut maturity may be delayed another 10-14 days due to its high chilling requirement, while Schley maturity will remain roughly the same.
Desirable nuts that I have sliced open this week were still mostly in the late water stage , although I did see some gel forming in some of them. From this point forward Desirable nut maturity should develop rapidly. They always seem to linger in the water stage and then fill all of a sudden. I would expect that it will be late October or early November (depending on your location) before harvest begins in earnest on these varieties.