Oklahoma's pecan crop spotty

Wednesday, November 23rd 2005, 10:13 am
By: News On 6

Oklahoma's pecan crop is down this year, predicted to be only about a third of last year. That's largely because of an almost total crop failure in southeast Oklahoma, but in northeast Oklahoma, the crop is better than usual.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says pecan farmers shake their trees this time of year and for some the crop is as good as ever.

Mike Spradling owns 620 acres of mostly native trees in Catoosa. He's halfway through the harvest and thinks his crop is twice what it was last year. "These pecans developed very well this year, filled out very good, so we're fortunate we weren't more affected by the drought."

The pecan harvest depends on good conditions for a whole year. The trees need fair weather to pollinate, enough rain to fill out the nuts, and dry weather for harvest. The odds are really against a bumper crop.

In this part of Oklahoma, the quantity of the crop is good and quality is too. Since the nation and much of Oklahoma had a poor crop, the prices should be up and that's good news for northeast Oklahoma farmers.

Lotsee Spradling with the Flying G Ranch: “A lot of growers don't have any pecans this year, we have friends who haven't gotten a harvester out.”

Those pecans grown in Catoosa are trucked to Sand Springs, where leaves and sticks are taken out and the duds are picked out by hand. The shells are cleaned then they're all sorted by size, which is a big indicator of quality for each variety.

Most of the pecans processed in Sand Springs go elsewhere for shelling, but some are sold on site.

Producers say Oklahoma pecans command top prices because they have more flavor. "We have a really nice crop high quality this year."

The crop in northeast Oklahoma is the envy of growers elsewhere who suffered more under the drought. For growers fortunate to be in the right place, the good crop and good prices are a good combination.