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2008 Harvest Forecast
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2008 Regional Harvest Forecast

Developing cones, Royal Gorge Field Office (Colorado)
Photo taken July 2008 by Ken Reed, BLM

Harvest Updates


New Mexico -- Report in from Datil, NM in the Cibola National Forest that the pinon nuts are large, healthy and plentiful.


Colorado - There's a healthy Arkansas Headwaters and San Luis Valley piñon crop. About 50% of trees in cone. Cones maturing and opening. Commericial and household harvesters gathering cone (and nut) on private and public land at various sites along the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Costilla, Alamosa, and Saguache counties as well as in Fremont and Chaffee counties.


Utah -  The Indian Peaks pine nut crop is in full swing. Cones are mostly open but a dry, hot summer caused many cones to abort and only roughly 50% of the nuts in mature cones are good. The nuts are on the dry side for this time of year.


Utah - Pickings are slim in Utah this year, but there are some localized spots with really good crops. These are in higher elevation sites that got decent rain through the spring and early summer.

Click here for map of commercial areas in Utah


Nevada - The U.S. Forest Service in Nevada has sold 4 of 6 harvest areas, including Paradise, White River, Monte Cristo, and Bade Flat.

New Mexico: Harvesters in New Mexico continue to report that areas have empty cones and worms. Prospects for regional New Mexico remain poor.

Summary of 2008 Prospects

Colorado and New Mexico - Pinus edulis (hard shell pinyon

Abundant cone crops indicate that a good harvest is probable from northern mid-New Mexico through Southwestern Colorado. It's likely to be a fair to good year, provided moisture remains steady.  Prospects for southern and mid-central New Mexico's crop are poor. Trees are loaded with cones but field examinations are showing only one or two nuts per cone.

Nevada and Utah  - Pinus monophylla (soft-shell pinyon)

Cones are dry and brown, little local moisture.  Reports are that areas with commercial potential are sparse and personal use crops are also likely to be sketchy.  20,000 lbs of pinyon nuts in Southern Utah are available for harvest under contract. All of the areas with harvestable cones are located at elevations over 7,000 feet. Cone crops at lower elevations have dried up. Dealers are anticipating that soft-shell prices will be very high this season due to the shortage of commercially viable harvest areas.

New Mexico - Harvesters in New Mexico continue to report that areas have empty cones and worms. Prospects for regional New Mexico remain poor.

Data Sources and Acknowledgments: The forecast below is based on information provided by pinyon nut dealers and land managers knowledgeable about the field conditions in the areas they work. We would like to thank the following people and companies for their willingness to share information.

Blue Coyote Pine Nuts      Carrillo Pine Nuts         Goods from the Woods
Juicy Jerky                         Ellis Tanner                 Dayer LeBaron

Kris Johnson, New Mexico Natural Heritage                                                                             Mary Nelson, San Luis Valley Public Lands Center                                                                 Doug Page, BLM Southwest Utah Zone
Kit Page, Colorado State Land Board, Southern District
Pat Pachecho, BLM New Mexico                                                                                               
Ken Reed, BLM Royal Gorge Field Office
Skip Ritter, BLM Nevada State Office
Joe Vieira, BLM Royal Gorge Field Office

Detailed State by State Outlook


Nut production will depend on moisture levels in the regions. Some regions appear to have good moisture including southern Colorado from the Royal Gorge area through Bandelier  and into the Taos region in New Mexico. These areas produce P.Edulis, or hard shell pinyon. Many people are reporting cone in this swath. Hurricane Dolly remnants dumped up to 8 inches of rain in these areas and cone formation continues to look good as of  late  July 2008.

Colorado counties with the best commercial potential  (indicated with green ovals in map below)

               Alamosa          Huerfano
           Costilla            Saguache
           Fremont          San Luis    

Other potential pinyon harvest areas in Colorado
(indicated with blue ovals in the map below)

             White River ( Rio Blanco)

 Locations of Colorado pinyon crops

Map courtesy of Digital Map Store

Permits for commercial and personal use on BLM and Forest Service lands in Colorado should contact the field office nearest the harvest location. A list of offices is located at the following site: http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo.html

The Royal Gorge Field Office charges 20 cents/pound for commercial permits, with a minimum purchase of $15. There is no charge for personal use permits which allow the holder to pick up to two five-gallon buckets of pinyon nuts. 

Lands managed by the Colorado State Land Board do not have a pinyon harvesting policy. Persons interested in harvesting on Colorado State lands should contact Kit Page, District Manager of the South District, regarding establishment of permit and lease fees.  


    Colorado State Land Board, South District
    305 Murphy Drive, Suite A
    Alamosa, CO 81101
    Phone: 719-589-2360 

New Mexico

Harvesters and brokers are optimistic about commercial potential for this year's crop  in northern New Mexico.  Commercial gatherers report seeing an abundance of cone in this part of the state and have identified several areas with significant organized harvest potential.

Areas in mixed ponderosa/pinyon east of Albuquerque have a heavy crop of ripening cones. Pinyon trees north of Taos near Questa are also producing heavy cone crops. However, many harvesters are reporting that many of the cones are empty or have worms.

Prospects are not optimistic for a good commercial harvest in southern and mid-central New Mexico. Few trees in the northern Oscura Mountains are producing cones, and while some trees in other parts of southern New Mexico are loaded with cones, many trees have only one or two nuts per cone. These areas may have sufficient production for traditional family harvests but are unlikely to be commercially viable.

Location of New Mexico pinyon crops

Map courtesy of Digital Map Store


Due to the scarcity of commercial viable harvest locations this year, Utah BLM will not have a harvest auction. However, it has negotiated contracts for a few commercially viable areas located by harvesters.  As of late July production was not anticipated to be in excess of 20,000 lbs.  Blight potential and fire danger continue to threaten contracted areas and harvest is by no means assured.


Prospects for the pinyon harvest in Nevada are poor. Although there was a good snowpack, there's been little moisture since February and the fire danger level is high. Potential harvest sites are likely to be above 7,000 feet in elevation.

BLM held its commercial pinyon harvest auction on August 12th at the Ely BLM District Office. Due to the poor harvest prospects, participation in the auction was limited. One unit with an estimated minimum crop of 4,000 pounds was purchased for $1000; a second unit with an estimated harvest of 200 pounds was also negotiated.

Commercial harvesters can inquire about negotiating contracts for commercial harvesting in areas not included in the auction but which have commercially viable crops .

Ely District Office
702 N. Industrial Way
Ely, NV 89301

Ph: 775-289-1800
Office hours: 7:30 am - 4:30 pm M-F 

U.S. Forest Service Auction - August 21, 2008 Location: Ely Ranger District

The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest will be putting the following commercial pinyon nut sales up for bid. 

Austin Ranger District
Bade Flat - Estimated harvest 6,000 lbs
Blackbird - Estimated harvest 6,000 lbs
Paradise - Estimated harvest 4,000 lbs

Ely Ranger District
Monte Cristo - Estimated harvest 2,000 lbs
White River - Estimated harvest 4,000 lbs
Cherry Quinn - Estimated harvest 4,000 lbs

These harvest units are offered by bids, either written or in person at the time of the opening of sealed bids. Bid opening will be August 21, 2008 at the Ely Ranger District office.

Ely Ranger District
825  Ave E.
Ely, Nevada 89301

Ph: 775-289-3031 or 775-482-7890
Office hours: 7:30 am to 4:30 pm 

Commercial harvesters are not optimistic about the commercial viability of these units as they may not have sufficient concentration of harvestable cones to support 10-30 person crews typically needed for a commercial harvest. However, these units could be viable for smaller operations using 3-5 person crews. Potential bidders should check out seed development in these units by cutting open a sampling of cones prior to putting in a bid.