Mike Spradling Explains American Pecan Council's Recent Work and this Year's Crop "in a Nutshell"Fri, 03 Nov 2017 16:23:16 CDT
Early indications suggest that Oklahoma’s pecan crop for 2017 is looking quite promising for growers, particularly for the Native variety. As producers prepare for harvest, Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays invited northeast Oklahoma pecan farmer Mike Spradling to visit him in studio this week to discuss the condition of this year’s crop and the recent efforts of the newly established American Pecan Council to promote and market the nut. Listen to their complete conversation, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“We’ve been looking at a good harvest all year,” Spradling said, sharing the early positive reports he had gathered from fellow growers. “But, things may change. What I’m hearing from a lot of growers, now that the leaves are starting to come off, we may not have quite as large a crop as we thought we had.”
According to the American Pecan Shellers’ production estimates, Oklahoma’s crop for this year is supposed to weigh in at 30 million lbs. However, Spradling says the United States Department of Agriculture has pegged pecan production in the state this year, at an estimated 20 million lbs.
“That’s quite a bit of difference,” he shrugged. “Last year, we had 12 million lbs. reported to the USDA… So, pecans can certainly vary each year with the amount of production.”
One factor that has certainly contributed to this apparent diminishment of the crop, says Spradling, is a widespread fungus problem that formed from a long period of humidity that resulted from high temperatures that followed heavy rains, earlier this year.
“A lot of those individuals that didn’t control scab, are starting to see the results of that now,” he said. “We also had a tremendous outburst of aphids and those that didn’t spray or control the aphid situation, saw a lot of early leaf drop on their crop.”
While speculation remains on this year’s harvest, one thing is certain - pecans have arrived as the “new kid on the block” in the nut market, so to speak. Peanut, almond, pistachio and other nut industries have been marketing their products with great success for many years now, but the pecan industry has only recently appeared on the scene with its own checkoff program, formed just this year, under a new federally approved program.
“The American Pecan Council is the oversight for the new Federal Pecan Marketing Order, which over 70 percent of the growers in this country voted for last year,” Spradling said. “So, there’s an assessment now and this money can be used to market pecans nationwide.”
Spradling says the Council has approved a promotional budget of $6 million to get the ball rolling in its first year. Leading the Council’s marketing efforts, is its agency of record, Weber Shandwick, an international firm with a client portfolio featuring brands like Oreo, M&Ms, Budweiser and Harley Davidson. The agency has created a campaign highlighting the pecan’s indigenous roots and reinventing it as a healthy snack food.
“That’s one thing we’re pushing - ‘America’s native nut’ - because pecans are native to North America only,” Spradling remarked, also calling attention to Oklahoma’s significant production of native pecan varieties. “That’s where Oklahoma shines.”
Spradling will join Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays for his weekly In the Field segment on KWTV News9 in the Oklahoma City area on Saturday morning at 6:40 a.m.
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