I started harvesting pine nut cones from the piñon trees in my area yesterday and am a bit worried about the crop. From the cones I have been able to open I notice that most of the nuts are undeveloped inside the shell, just shriveled up. Is this just a bad season? I shouldn't think so, because a lot of the trees look fully loaded. I'm wondering if I'm just picking the wrong trees or something. I was wondering if anyone here had any experience in this matter.
I'm picking them on Mingus Mountain in North-Central Arizona and I started at around 5,700 feet right where the trees begin at the base of the mountain. Most of the trees I picked from were younger and had a more bushy structure, because those are easier to pick, and tended to have more cones. About half of the trees I passed with cones were already fully opened and it looked like the birds already took the good nuts, because most every nut I inspected on these trees was hollow and around half of the nuts were missing (I'm guessing these were the good ones).