Arizona pecan acreage growth doubles

Pecan production in Arizona continues to gain steam with more affordable inputs and good market demand as the main drivers.

Joshua Sherman, commercial horticulture area agent with the University of Arizona (UA) Cooperative Extension, says 2017 is closing with double the number of new pecan acres planted over 2016.

There is an estimated 26,000 acres of pecans in Arizona with 14,000 acres in bearing production. This year, growers planted about 2,500 acres in pecan.

Most of the latest growth in Arizona pecan production is driven by more affordable land and water, Sherman explains. The state has some advantages over southeastern pecan producing states, including a climate that excludes some pest and disease pressures found in more humid, wetter growing areas.

Even with the increase in pecan acres, Arizona still sits in the number four spot nationwide in pecan production, behind New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Georgia.

Sherman says most of Arizona’s new acreage is located in Cochise County in the southeast part of the state. The San Simon, McNeal, and Bowie areas in the county have a sizeable portion of new plantings. At least four larger pecan growers have processing facilities on site to hull and dry the nuts. 

Demand in China for large in-shell pecans is spurring pecan production in other states as well. Arizona is also focused on supplying the export market, plus planting newer varieties that produce larger nuts and ripen earlier.

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