ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Businesses that depend on New Mexico’s state tree are feeling the pinch of a shortage of Piñon nuts. They claim there hasn’t been a decent harvest in two years.
Donna Buffett from Buffett’s Candies could soon be running out of piñon nuts.
The nuts have been a staple at Buffett’s Candies since it opened its doors in the late 1950s, but with drought, wildfires, and bark beetles taking a toll on piñon trees, Buffett’s has had to make adjustments.
“We use to sell out piñon rolls individually, and we had to stop doing that because we were getting short, and now we’re to the point to where we only offer a one-pound box of our piñon candy. That’s the only selection we have,” said Buffett.
The changes will buy them some time, but even then, they’re still worried. They tend to go through anywhere from 8 to 10 thousand pounds of raw piñon nuts per year. The supply has been dwindling over the last few years: a problem they haven’t seen since the early 2000s.
“Based on those numbers and what we thought we had left, we were expecting to run out around the 15th of December of this last year, but we think because of the changes, and the way we started to manage the candy and the nut we had left, we’re very hopeful that we might make it to mid-summer,” said Buffett.
Dave Cuneo is the owner of New Mexico Piñon Nut Company. He’s been harvesting piñon nuts for over 30 years in New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado, selling them in and out of state. He said there hasn’t been a decent harvest in two years. One of the places he used to harvest was affected by last year’s fires, but he’s trying not to let that affect his retail prices.
“I have not raised the prices significantly because I think there’s a max price that you can charge, there are roadside vendors that have gone way beyond that price, but I stopped at $50 a pound,” said Cueno.
Piñon crop predictions will be made in May or June. By then, we’ll know how much rain we’ve received. The New Mexico Department of Agriculture claimed they don’t keep track of the number of piñon trees in the state.