FRIO COUNTY, Texas – Homegrown pecans and the ongoing trade dispute with China are now linked as part of the tit-for-tat trade wars.
Beijing slapped a whopper of a tariff on pecans, hitting Texas hard since it’s the third largest pecan producer in the United States.
Growers in South Texas are concerned they’ll be squeezed out by China.
The pecans in Gary Schmidtke’s Frio County orchard are looking robust at this time. The clusters are so thick, he’s having to shake the trees to thin them out.
It’s not the crop causing concern for the orchard owner and other Texas pecan growers, it’s the financial harvest.
China has worked up a huge appetite for American pecans.
“The Chinese like a really big pecan,” Schmidtke said.
More than one-third of the U.S. crop is shipped to China.
“They have been buying quite a few pecans, so we are hoping that the increase in tariffs gets worked out before we start our harvest in October,” Schmidtke said.
As part of the tariffs in what has become something of a trade war food fight, China has imposed a whopping 47 percent tariff on U.S. pecans. And some growers are nervous the tariffs will ruin China’s appetite and the market for pecans.
If the Chinese quit buying pecans in bulk, that could lead to an oversupply in the U.S. and drive prices down domestically, which is good news for consumers, not growers.
Schmidtke is hopeful the global marketplace will provide some balance, but for now, the pecan industry looks to entice other consumers and he will have to wait to see how the trade tiff shakes out.