Pecan Research

SAM W. DUNN Sales Department, Gold Kist Pecan Growers Cooperative Waycross, Georgia, and Seguin, Texas Gold Kist Pecan Growers of Waycross, Georgia, is a division of The Cotton Producers Association with headquarters located in Atlanta, Georgia. The Cotton Producers Association, granted a charter in Georgia in 1936, was first organized for the specific purpose of providing the membership of the association with a satisfactory procedure for marketing cotton. The association was organized by a small group of cotton farmers in Carroll County, Georgia, who employed Mr. D. W. Brooks as General Manager. We are very fortunate in that Mr. Brooks is still our General Manager. Down through the years, The Cotton Producers Association has expanded and added several different cooperative purchasing and marketing services, primarily at the insistence of the membership who felt that the same cooperative cotton marketing principles, when applied to other agricultural commodities, and if properly managed, could aid tremendously in improving their farm income. One of these services, of course, is our own Gold Kist Pecan Growers Division. Actually, Gold Kist Pecan Growers was added to the family July 1, 1950, at the insistence of many of our cotton members who were also pecan growers. Active operations began that year following the purchase of one of the most modern pecan shelling plants in the industry. The cooperative pecan marketing and processing facilities of Gold Kist were first utilized by our members in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. Later, these services were offered to pecan growers in other producing states, and today our members are marketing pecans cooperatively in eight of the nine major producing states in the Belt. The Waycross, Georgia, operations also include an in-shell bleaching and polishing plant for the processing of pecans for in-shell distribution. Other facilities include an in-shell cleaning and grading plant located here in Texas at Seguin. We understand our Seguin operation is the only facility of its kind in the state of Texas where pecan growers in this area can bring their pecans and have the culls and pops removed. In some years when quality is below normal, many growers have found it almost impossible to market their pecans without some kind of processing. Furthermore, we have found that pecan growers in the state of Texas, generally speaking, are reluctant to offer pecans for in-shell distribution to the consumers which are known to be of inferior quality and which do not meet the minimum requirements of U.S.D.A. pecan grades and standards. As a result, heretofore many lots of pecans have been forced into shelling channels, when a little in-shell processing might have raised the price several cents per pound. Everyone is familiar with the fact that inferior pecans will always act as a depressing influence on the price of good pecans. When pecan growers clean and remove the culls from inferior lots of pecans, they not only enhance the price to themselves, but they are cooperating with their neighbor in helping him to get the most for his good quality. We feel that our in-shell program at Seguin will prove to be a real asset to the industry in this area, not only to the producers, but to the processors and consumers as well. Accomplishments of Gold Kist during the past seven years and conditions as they appear today within the industry definitely lead us to the conclusion that pecan growers, through their own organization, have helped to bring about some desirable changes within our industry. For instances, we have repeatedly urged the retention of the Pecan Marketing Agreement and Order covering the five states East of the Mississippi River, which regulates the minimum size and quality of pecans which can be shipped for in-shell distribution. We feel that the Pecan Marketing Agreement and Order has not only improved returns to growers for their good pecans, but has been highly instrumental toward re-building consumer confidence in in-shell pecans. Today, most of the more reliable buyers will specify U. S. D. A. grades, rather than brand names or shipper's quality. The states of Louisiana and Texas should be included under this program to make the program more effective, and insure greater benefits to all. Our members may now place their pecans in a pool, which in effect enables them to market their pecans over a period of several months rather than a few weeks. Over a period of years, growers participating in this pool will show substantial gain, because the record tells us that four out of every five years, prices received by growers are at their lowest point during the harvesting season, One of the best ways to help eliminate the peaks and valleys in the price cycle is not only to stabilize production, but to also improve the quality. This can best be done through the application of known and adapted practices and procedures. As a matter of policy, we have always urged our members to follow the recommendations of the colleges of agriculture and experiment stations with respect to production and harvesting; and also in the selection of the more desirable and proven varieties for plantings. Greater automation in the harvesting and handling of bulk pecans is highly desirable in our industry. Actually, the pecan industry is lagging far behind other American nut industries in this direction. We feel this objective will soon be accomplished; thereby increasing efficiency and reducing processing and distribution costs, which in the end should affect prices received by growers, as well as the prices consumers have to pay. Through continued engineering studies and research work, all shelled pecans will no doubt be sorted electrically in the not-too-distant future. Many agricultural commodities are successfully being sorted in this manner already; thereby affecting substantial labor savings. Our plant facilities are open to the inspection of growers, and we extend to each of you a personal invitation to visit us at your convenience. It has been a pleasure for me to represent Gold Kist here today. We wish to thank you for the opportunity and to emphasize “come and see us when you can at Seguin or Waycross!”

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