Claremore Daily Progress

Community News

June 30, 2011

Rogers County pecan earns first place

CLAREMORE — There are some popular nuts in the world vying for universal center stage including walnuts, almonds, hazel nuts, cashews, macadamia, hickory, and pecans. Of these, pecans are really cracking the global market.

The annual meeting of the Oklahoma Pecan Growers Association was recently held in Bartlesville.  This annual meeting includes the judging of pecans grown during the 2010 season. First place for the large paper shell cultivar named ‘Maramec’ was grown in Rogers County just four miles west of Claremore as was the largest native pecan entered in the state competition.

Rogers County’s economic potential with pecan production is a well kept secret. The land situated on the Verdigris River in Rogers County is particularly well suited for pecan growing.  The soil is Osage clay which is very deep and holds moisture well.

Pecan growing is a way to create wealth in an economy similar to value added manufacturing. And the rapid expansion of the export market brings capital directly into this area.

Pecans are native to the US and particularly Oklahoma. Presently the US provides approximately 80 percent of the world’s pecan production. Within the United States there are 14 states that produce pecans with Oklahoma being in the top five. The top five pecan producing states are Georgia, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and Oklahoma.

Within Oklahoma, Rogers County is in the top five pecan producing counties. The top five pecan producing counties in Oklahoma are Pontotoc, Garvin, Carter, Bryan, and Rogers. Other than Rogers, the other four Oklahoma counties in the top five are located south of I-40 near the Red River.

There are several reasons for the growing popularity of pecans. Perhaps the foremost reason is the health benefits provided by pecans. Much research has been done in recent years relative to the affect pecans have on cholesterol levels. In fact FDA has given approval to label pecans as a “heart-healthy” food because of that benefit. Of course taste is another benefit.

Subsequently pecans are now being successfully marketed globally. Until about a year ago individual states were dealing directly with such nations as China. Other growing markets include India, Canada, European Union and Dubai. 

The United States pecan industry is making a joint effort toward global marketing with the formation of US Pecans which is the export arm of NPGC, i.e. the National Pecan Growers Council. The NPGC provides lists to foreign buyers of US growers that desire to sell direct.

Pecan production in the US has been relatively constant over the last 20 years averaging 281MM pounds per year. In fact in the last 10 years annual production has decreased averaging just 257MM pounds. The production for 2010 was 258MM pounds. The demand, however, has continued to grow resulting in 2010 prices being the highest in history.

One of the primary factors for the increased demand is exports. For example, in 2009 China alone imported between 80MM and 100MM pounds. The percent of 2010’s production exported was approximately 57 percent.

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