Pecan harvest was the worst he’s seen, local grower says

LEACHVILLE, AR (KAIT) - If you’ve tried to go pecan picking this holiday season, you might have noticed, there aren’t any.

Local pecan grower Leon Swihart said it's the worst harvest he's ever seen.

Right now would usually be his busiest time of the year, but from Northeast Arkansas to Southeast Missouri, he said you can hardly find a pecan for 100 miles.

"Every town I've looked at, I haven't really found any," Swihart said.

Swihart is a 75-year-old, third-generation pecan grower in Leachville, Arkansas.

"And I've lived here in the middle of a pecan orchard since me and my wife got married 50 years ago," he said.

He's experienced countless pecan harvests in his lifetime, but this year caught him by surprise.

"We've had years with short crops and maybe no crops," Swihart said. "But never when 98 percent of our neighbors had zero."

It's just a theory, but he thinks the problem is trees only produced male flowers this year, not the female flowers, which are the baby pecans.

You need both for a quality harvest.

"When we have a large crop of pecans we'll have 25 people hand-harvesting pecans for themselves and for us," Swihart said. "And we'll have pickup trucks coming and buying loads to resell."

However, this year left Swihart's orchard empty of pecans and customers.

“Well, financially, it’s not a good year,” he said.

Fortunately for Swihart, pecan growing is just a hobby.

It is one that teaches him countless lessons, not the least of which is perseverance.

“Put down the proper fertilizer and that’s about all you can do because Mother Nature gives you a new wrinkle each year,” Swihart said.

Of his 50 acres and nearly 600 trees, Swihart said not a single pecan made it to harvest this year.

Copyright 2018 KAIT. All rights reserved.