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Processors waiting for pecans to fall

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP)--Although pecan trees are dropping a few nuts, it's going to take a hard freeze for pecan trees in Eddy County to shed their leaves and cause all the nuts to fall.

At Pecos Valley Pecans, the machines are already in gear and ready for the pecan season.

Pecos Valley Pecans, a division of CARC Inc., processes pecans from the CARC orchards, as well as accepting pecans on a fee basis from the public for cracking, machine cleaning or full processing, said Freddy Perez, pecan processing plant supervisor.

"We also shell pecans on the halves, but we won't be doing that until the first of the year,'' he stressed. "Right now, we are processing what we have in the cooler. The majority of our nut crop is still in the orchard. We are waiting for a freeze and for them to drop.''

The shelling on the halves program is free to residents who hate to shell their pecans, don't have the time for the chore and don't mind sharing half their harvest in exchange for it to be processed and bagged.

"We will shell the pecans and keep half of the pecans that the customer brings in,'' Perez explained. "We usually do the shelling on the halves from late December or early January and continue through the end of March. When people bring in their pecans, we weigh everything they bring in and advise them what they should expect to take home after the pecans have been shelled and cleaned.''

The processing plant generates revenue for CARC, in addition to providing physically and mentally handicapped CARC residents on- and off-campus residents jobs and a sense of self-worth and pride when they receive a pay check for their work in the processing plant.

"Shelling on the halves is our most popular program. Sometimes there is a wait period before we can get them processed,'' Perez noted. "Then we have customers who want all their pecans returned and don't mind paying for the work we perform. Some want their pecans just cracked. Others bring them in for just machine cleaning. Then we have customers that want the full process. We charge 75 cents per pound for cracking, $1 per pound for machine cleaning and $1.50 per pound for the full process.''

Perez said last year, CARC's orchards produced about 2,500 pounds of pecans. This year the yield is expected to be slightly higher, he said.

Perez said little is wasted at the pecan plant. Once the pecans are shelled, the discarded shells are processed into meal and mulch, which can be purchased from CARC. The facility also sells pecans either chopped, in small pieces or halves.

During the holiday season, pecan gift tins are also available for purchase.

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