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Oklahoma Pecan Growers At Mercy Of Weather's Ups, Downs

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LOTSEE, Oklahoma -

This is not your grandfather's orchard. With the help of high-tech equipment, the Flying G Ranch, is able to sell its pecans all over the world.

Using a brand new machine that looks like it could be in a Batman movie, the pecans in Lotsee are flying off the trees.

“That's probably the newest one in Oklahoma,” Flying G Ranch owner Mike Spradling said. “I doubt that there's half a dozen in Oklahoma right now, but that one just got off the truck a month ago.”

It's early harvest at the orchard.

Spradling says he harvests about 800,000 pounds of pecans each year.

“Harvest, for us, it's doing real well,” he said.

And while his crop looks good, as the Oklahoma Pecan Growers Association Vice President, he knows he's one of the lucky ones.

Spradling said the state's overall pecan harvest has seen better years.

To blame, he said, were heavy spring and summer rains, combined with web worms and pecan scabs disease.

“We started out with the potential of 35 million pounds, the latest estimate was around 25 million,” he said. “Now we're in harvest, we'll be lucky to come up with 20 million pounds in the state of Oklahoma.

Buy Flying G Pecans

In terms of money, he said that could mean a $21 million loss for the state and growers.

It also could mean paying more for pecans.

“Supply and demand always regulates the price in agriculture products, same with pecans,” he said.  

But Spradling fears it could get worse before it gets better if El Nino brings too much rain or snow.

“Moisture's always a problem,” Spradling said. “Then snow could be a problem. Snow's worse than rain because if it stays cold it can stay on there for two weeks at a time. Even if it's not falling, the snow's on the ground and we can't harvest.”

He's hoping Oklahoma growers won't have to worry about that, and he's putting in a special request.

“Travis [Meyer] understands agriculture, so Travis, help us buddy,” he said.

From the orchard, the pecans go to be cleaned, then to store shelves.



 

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