It hasn’t been a good year for pecans.
Excessive rain during the summer caused major problems for this year’s crops. Local farmer Donnie Leflett said the 10-15 inches of rain that fell in August is to blame.
“They really needed sunshine,” he said. “Seemed like it rained every other day in August, which is good for the grass and cattle but the pecans suffered.”
Leflett Pecans, located at 5698 Highway 3 in Benton, is a thriving business this time of year. In 2016, they sold over 50,000 pounds of fresh pecans.
This year, however, they were lucky to sell just 15,000 pounds.
A normal 30 day harvest operation at Leflett’s farm was reduced down to just a week. Thousand pound sacks sit empty in the workroom and the machines are quiet.
It’s certainly an usual sight around there.
“This is the worst year I’ve ever experienced,” Leflett said. “Last year it was such a good crop, as far as volume and price, that it was the best year ever.”
It’s not an isolated incident though. Pecan farmers in other states, including Texas and Georgia, are suffering.
Leflett said a good year generally gives them enough product to sell until closer to Christmas. That’s not the case this year. They’ve already sold out, according to the banner displayed across their website.
“We were lucky enough to have 3,000 pounds of our best seller and they were as good as they’ve ever been,” Leflett said.
Even though there was a shortage, Leflett did not raise his prices.
So how do you spot a bad pecan? Leflett said they’ll have dark spots and no weight to them.
“If it’s really light when you pick it up, that means it’s no good,” he said.
A good pecan, however, will be heavy and have a good exterior color.
Despite the unusual season, Leflett remains optimistic.
“There’s always next year,” he said. “It’s just part of farming. You take the good with the bad and keep on kicking.”
Leflett Pecans has been family owned and operated since 1945. There are more than 1,300 papershell pecan trees on their property.
For more information, visit their website at www.leflettpecans.com.
By Amanda Simmons