The most important step is to gather your pecans as soon as possible when they fall from the tree. When a substantial amount of pecans fall from the tree it may be time to shake more loose and gather them. There are too many hazards to leaving your crop on the ground not to mention animals and birds eating them. Most cases this happens after the first hard freeze.
Of course many will blow off from high winds and these pecans may not be ready for selling. But gather them and set them out in the sun for a few days.
Remove the husk before you try to sell them because the buyer will possibly refuse to buy them or deduct from what they will pay.
I can't stress enough how important it is to take care of your pecan tree prior to the harvest.
Sort your pecans and bag them according to size. This makes it easier to get a fair price on all of your pecans especially if you have multiple trees with different size nuts. One type of pecan may shell out better than the other. You may get a higher price for one type over the other instead of a sample from the lower quality nut determining what will get paid.
Sort out deformed or damaged nuts when you have finished harvesting them.
Unless you choose to crack and shell the pecans yourself, you will end up paying to have these undesirable nuts processed.
If you intend to sell your pecans, having substandard or worthless nuts will cause the buyer to offer a lower price than for consistent, high quality pecans. This is especially true if you sell to a wholesaler, who grades his purchases carefully to insure the quality of his product.
Some things to look for to help determine the quality of your pecans are these:
Coloration. Good pecans should have a uniform color. Some varieties, like Stuarts and Donaldsons have stripes near the bud ends, and a good definition between the stripe color (usually black), and the shells (light tan) are indicative of a good nut.
Shell shape. Pecans form inside the husk as nutrients are passed through the veins in the husk, then through the still soft shell, filling out from the bud end to the tip. If dry weather, depletion of soil nutrients, or insect damage to the husk interrupts this feeding process, the nut will taper toward the tip end, meaning the nutmeat has not continued to grow completely.
Sound. This may seem unusual, but pecans, when they are rattled or dropped together, make a distinctive sound. Hollow sounding pecans are likely not filled out, whereas good, full pecans will sound solid, even if just rattled together in your hands. As you gather the pecans, shake them, and crack a few suspicious sounding ones, and you will soon develop an ear for the sound of a good, full pecan.
Weight. Although individual pecans weigh very little, an experienced picker, especially when picking or sorting by hand, will soon notice a distinct difference in weight of full pecans, compared to lesser quality ones.
Clean quality pecans will always bring you a better price than not. You worked hard gathering your pecans, get paid what you deserve.
You can always sell your pecans to family and friends and your circle of influence.
If you choose to market them straight to the consumer or even a retail outlet, you will have to work hard to establish your customer base.
Check with area bakeries and candy shops, your local grocery store, and anywhere else that may be interested in buying pecans.
If you have a brother-in-law that lives up north' where pecans aren't available, plan a visit and spend some time trying to establish some connections with retailers in his area that might need your product.
You will have to hussle to make this direct marketing idea work.
The internet is a great place to market your product and you can do so with or without your own pecan website. There are numerous classifieds sites such as Craig's List, and if you search long enough, there are even 'virtual farmers' markets and such.
It's not for everyone, and if you're producing thirty or forty thousand pounds of pecans every year, quite frankly, it's not the avenue you want to take. This method of marketing your pecans will become a whole different business that will require much of your time to be successful.
You may try to seek out a wholesaler, however that adds another spoke in the wheel and the price you get for your pecans may diminish.
You waited all year for the pecan season, now that it has arrived you need to sell those pecans. Selling to a sheller is probably the easiest way to get the most money for your pecans.
Most shellers have customers waiting for the new season of pecans and thats
why you become very important to Shellers. Of course they are willing to give you top dollar for your pecans.
Pecan prices are generally derived by a formula called a 'price per point' which is based on your shell-out rate, the pounds of edible nut meat.
Other factors influencing this price structure are the color of your nutmeats and the size of the nut.
Recieving a fair price for your pecans starts before the leaves appear on your trees in spring. You can't expect top dollar for your crop if you don't produce top quality pecans.
I hear stories from pecan buyers and shellers who pay a fair price for a load of pecans, then discover the shell-out rate is only thrity percent. So, if these buyers gave a grower $1.50 a pound for in-shell pecans and only thrity percent was usable product, they have $4.50 invested in their pecans. That isn't including their cost for storage and shelling, which will more than likely esculate their investment to around $6.00 a pound.
They made no money, and that's why you hear stories of pecan growers receiving .40 to .80 per pound. These buyers have been burned time and time again.
Therefore, YOU make up your mind that you are going to do everything possible to produce a crop with a shell-out rate of fifty percent or better. That means you have to water, fertilize, apply zinc...the whole nine yards. Fact is, you cannot make a profit selling pecans for less than a dollar a pound.
If you are lucky enough to have a Pecan Processing Plant in your area most likely you will get a fair price based on a formula from current market prices for pecans.
Shelling plants have different requirements for minimum amounts of pecans they will buy so check with your local plant before you make trip with a loaded vehicle full of pecans.
Shellers look for sellers and vice versa.