May 20, 2021
Reflecting on USDA pecan, pistachio production numbers

In January 2021, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistic Service (NASS) reported U.S. pecan production for the 2020/21 marketing season (October-September) at 302 million pounds utilized in-shell basis. This is 18% above the previous year, and 4% higher than the October 2020 forecast of 292 million pounds.

The change in production reflects increases in domestic production in pecan-producing states, including Georgia and Texas. NASS reported most pecan trees having little to no limb breakage from the February 2021 freeze in the Southern High Plains in Texas. In 2020/21, Georgia became the largest pecan producer after being outranked by New Mexico for the past two years. Georgia’s orchards are finally recovering from Hurricane Michael in November 2018.

Estimated at 142 million pounds, production in Georgia in 2020/21 rose 95% from the previous year. Statewide bearing acreage remains steady at 129,000 acres in 2020 from the previous year while yield per acre is estimated at 1,100 pounds per acre (up 534 pounds from 2019/20). Pecan production is in the “off-year” of the crop’s alternate-bearing cycle, which partly contributed to the decline in production in New Mexico, (down 12% from 2019/20) as well as other producing states.

The U.S. average grower price for pecans declined from $1.84 per pound in 2019 to $1.32 per pound in 2020 likely due to the increase in supply and high beginning stocks compared to last year. Overall lower grower prices drove down the value of production from $471 million in 2019/20 to an estimated $398.8 million in 2020/21.

Import demand for shelled pecans is down slightly, while shelled imports – mostly from Mexico – are down 63%  in October 2020 to January 2021 compared with the same period the previous season. Drought in Chihuahua in November may have affected the supply. The value of imports declined to $38 million compared to $110 million during that same time period. With the larger domestic crop in 2020/21, an 18% increase in the cumulative volume of inshell pecan exports occurred in 2020/21 (October 2020–January 2021) compared with same period the previous season, and a 5% increase in shelled pecan exports.

China remains one of the top markets for U.S. pecans in 2020 with over a 70 percent share of U.S. in-shell pecan exports from October 2020 to January 2021, a 75% increase from the same period last year.

US pistachio production shows record one-year high

Based on data from the Administrative Committee for Pistachios (ACP), the U.S. pistachio crop for the 2020/21 season (September-August) is forecast to reach over 1 billion pounds in-shell basis, equivalent to 507.3 million pounds shelled basis, up 42% from the previous season.

Yields increased as it is an “on-year” for the alternate-bearing crop cycle for pistachios. ACP reports average per acre yields are up 30% in 2020 to 2,806 pounds from the previous year. Over 31,600 bearing acres were added in 2020 from the previous year.

The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service forecasts Iran’s pistachio production to decrease slightly in 2020/21 due to the off-year of the crop cycle. Iran, a major producer, is expected to increase exports of pistachios from last year’s inventory; however the pace is expected to slow as supplies dwindle. U.S. imports are predicted up 40% from the previous season. Increased demand is expected as many consumers are likely continuing to stock up.

The United States is forecast to have an increase in exports – nearly 20% higher on strong shipments to top markets China and the European Union, despite trade issues with China.

Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook: March 2021, FTS-372, March 30, 2021 USDA, Economic Research Service

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