Busy season expected for Campbell Pecans

Todd Kleiboer
Workers at Campell Pecans check the quality of pecans before sweeping them into an elevator that will take them to the sorter.

By Todd Kleiboer | Co-Editor

113,000 pounds of pecans, enough to cover a football field, passed through Commerce’s Campbell Pecans last season, and after opening Nov. 1, owner Kathy Campbell looks for a more productive season.

“Pecans are on cycles, and usually a pecan cycle is every other year,” Campbell said. “It just so happened that last year was a good year, but this year looks like it’s going to be even better according to the forecasts.”

Last season had been the best for Campbell Pecans in the past few years, but it was nowhere close to the best season the family business has had.

“I have bought nearly a million pounds in one season,” Campbell said. “I had semis coming up to the front every other day picking up pecans because we didn’t have room.”

A higher demand is expected this year due to the loss of pecans during hurricanes in Texas and Florida, and higher demand equals higher prices and more profit.

“They lost quite a few [pecan trees] down there, sad to say,” Campbell said. “They lost a lot with the wind, and then the rain just washed them away.”

Pecans are also exported to other countries such as China which creates more demand, and lawmakers such as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz have fought for less severe pecan tariffs in India.

“Our shellers here in United States are having to compete against exports to China and other countries,” Campbell said. “So they’re having to pay a little more to get our product because if they can’t, we’ll just send them to China.”

The season lasts from early autumn to mid-winter, and it largely depends on when the first freeze comes, making the trees drop their pecans en masse.

“Whenever it gets slow enough,” Campbell said in response to when the season is over for her. “I’ve got five employees that I’m paying, and that costs me a lot per day. If I can’t pay them and can’t get the work done to make some sort of profit, then I just shut it down.”

The current market price for pecans is 80 cents per pound, and Campbell Pecans pays a five-cent bonus per pound to customers that bring in over 100 pounds.

“We’ll buy any amount of pecans,” Campbell said. “We have people come in, and they’ll sell us two pounds or five pounds of pecans. They’ve been out under a tree and bring the pecans in.”

Buying prices for the pecans typically increase over the season because pecans are usually better later into the season, and at last season’s end, Campbell Pecans was buying pecans at $1.10 per pound.

“These early pecans we pay less for because they’re usually not as quality,” Campbell said. “Once we get a freeze, the price will fluctuate. There’s only been twice in the last thirty years where I’ve had to down in price.”

Campbell Pecans cracks and blows pecans at a price for the public as well, and they are sold in different amounts as either unshelled or shelled.

“It’s so they can pick them out and have their own nuts to put in their freezer,” Campbell said. “[With the halves of pecans] we sell a lot of those for the holidays for baking.”

The hours of operation for Campbell’s Pecans are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, and they are located just off the southwest corner of the square.

Todd Kleiboer
These seven canvas bag hold 11,966 pounds of pecans, and this was taken five days after Campbell Pecans opened Nov. 1.