Oklahoma's Pecan Harvest, A Mixed Bag

Wednesday, November 8th 2006, 10:38 am
By: News On 6

Pies, cookies, muffins and more, there are many ways to enjoy Oklahoma's native nut, the pecan. It's harvesting time, but the drought is taking a toll on the pecan crop in many parts of Oklahoma.

News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin says for growers this year, it's a mixed bag.

'Tis the sound of the season, the pre-holiday harvest of Oklahoma grown pecans. Grower Mike Spradling: "Of course they're called the Cadillac of all the nuts." Bagging pecans is big business in eastern Oklahoma, but the success of this year's crop all depends upon where your trees are planted. “The drought did affect the quality, we're gonna find that the pounds are gonna be much shorter than what we anticipated earlier this year."

Mike Spradling says the statewide haul will likely be less than half of the projected pecan poundage. Spradling is grateful that he's in better shape than some. "We were very fortunate this year, I don't know how we got by the drought as well as we did, but the water table on this particular piece of property is pretty high."

But the pride of his 800-plus acre orchard this year isn't just the quality of the nuts; it's a brand new harvester. Spradling calls the 'Batmobile.' Besides being pretty neat to watch the contraption keeps the pecans off the ground, allowing for more thorough harvesting, in all types of weather. Part of the upgrade is this new cracking machine, in the past processed pecans still had to be pulled out of the shell by the customer.

But now with this new equipment, pecans come out in perfect halves and you simply brush the shells away. Bought by the bag or state shaped gift box, Spradling says sales should be good. "Well of course agriculture's all supply and demand and of course as the supply goes down, the demand goes up and as the demand goes up so does the price."