Which of the following most logically completes the passage?
Pecan growers get a high price for their crop when pecans are comparatively scarce, but the price drops sharply when pecans are abundant. Thus, in high-yield years, growers often hold back part of their crop in refrigerated warehouses for one or two years, hoping for higher prices in the future. This year’s pecan crop was the smallest in five years. It is nonetheless quite possible that a portion of this year’s crop will be held back, since ________________.
(Because of copyrights, the complete official question is not copied here. You can access the question here: GMAT Club)
Based on: 6244 sessions
Pecan growers get a high price for their crop when pecans are comparatively scarce, but the price drops sharply when pecans are abundant.
Scarce crop –> High Price
Abundant crop –> Low price
Pecan seems to follow the standard demand-supply principles.
↑ Supply –> ↓ Price
↓ Supply –> ↑ Price
Thus, in high-yield years, growers often hold back part of their crop in refrigerated warehouses for one or two years, hoping for higher prices in the future.
“high-yield years”: high supply years
In high-yield years, growers often hold back a portion of their crop.
In the hopes that they will be able to sell at higher prices in the future.
(So, I guess pecan doesn’t get spoiled in a couple of years of refrigeration)
This year’s pecan crop was the smallest in five years. – Current year’s yield was the lowest in five years.
(Doesn’t necessarily mean that the yield was low in absolute terms. Just that it was lower than in each of the previous years’.)
It is nonetheless quite possible that a portion of this year’s crop will be held back, since _________. – “nonetheless” expresses a contrast. What is the contrast?
Despite the crop being the smallest in five years, a portion of this year’s crop may still be held back.
Which of the following most logically completes the passage?
The passage mentions two contrasting ideas. On the one hand, the yield this year was the smallest in five years. Yet, on the other, a portion of this year’s crop might be held back. The word ‘since’ in the end tells us that we have to find a potential reason for why despite the lowest yield in five years, a portion of this year’s pecan crop may be held back. Basically, we’re looking for an answer choice that will help resolve this confusion.
1. Maybe the overall supply is still too high.
a. There could be pecan still stored from previous years. The growers would want to clear that first.
b. Lowest in five years could still mean a high-yield. So maybe this year’s yield is still greater than the demand.
2. Maybe the demand has shrunk. So, even though the supply reduced, the demand may have reduced more significantly.
Notice the phrase ‘quite possible’ in the last sentence. The phrase tells us that we’re looking for an answer choice that could potentially be a reason. We don’t need the correct answer choice to give us certainty.
Answer choice analysis
Answer Choice: A
Selected by: 71%
This one fits.
If the previous two years had extremely high yields of pecan (record-breaking), probably some crop is stored in refrigeration from these years. Growers would likely want to clear their old stock before selling the new one.
Also, if at least two of the last five years had record-breaking yields, I’m even more inclined to believe that the current year’s yield was perhaps not low in absolute terms – just lower.
So, If each of the last two years produced very high pecan yields, that could be a potential reason to hold back a portion of this year’s crop.
The quality of this year’s pecan yield is at-par with (or maybe even better than) the previous five years’ pecan yield.
The quality could be related to consumers’ willingness to buy.
However, I do not see a relation between holding back a portion of this year’s yield and its quality. Reject.
Answer Choice: C
Selected by: 10%
Statement: The prices of pecan have not fluctuated sharply in recent years.
1. We don’t know why the prices didn’t fluctuate.
a. It could be that the yield every year was roughly the same.
b. Or that the growers maintained the prices by storing portions of the yields, or by using pecans from storage.
2. Had the option told us that the prices have been significantly low, we could see that as a potential reason to hold back a portion of the crop this year. However, we don’t even learn whether the price levels have been low or high. The prices have not fluctuated sharply just means that the price has remained quite consistent. We don’t know at what levels.
Simply learning that there haven’t been sharp fluctuations in prices does not help us understand why a portion might be held back this year.
Answer Choice: D
Selected by: 11%
Well, we know that the overall yield was the smallest in five years. The passage deals with scarcity and abundance of pecan overall in the market, and not with yields of individual growers.
“when pecans are comparatively scarce” and “when pecans are abundant”: both these phrases deal with overall pecan supply, not with yields of individual growers. A “high-yield year” would be one when the overall supply is high.
We’re not concerned with individual growers’ yields.
Answer Choice: E
Selected by: 6%
So maybe this practice is not very old.
But, why might a portion of this year’s crop be held back despite the lowest yield in five years?
I don’t see any reason that could help explain that dichotomy.
The passage talks about storing a portion of this year’s crop as a “quite possible outcome”. We are not looking for an answer that confirms that a portion will be stored, just an answer choice that will help us understand why a portion might be stored.
Some flawed reasons I have seen to reject answer choice A:
* “The option compares the yield with previous years’. We only care about the current year.” – Essentially, the passage talks about X, the option talks about Y. Therefore, the option is wrong. That on its own is not a good enough reason to reject an answer. In this case, for example, we still need to check whether the answer choice gives a potential reason for storing a portion of this year’s yield. As it turns out, it does.
* “It uses very strong language: ‘record-breaking’. Answers choices with such extreme language are usually wrong, Therefore, this one Is wrong as well.” There is no such rule that answer choices that use strong/ extreme language are wrong. While such options could of course be wrong, there will have to be an underlying reason for why that’s the case.
If you have any doubts regarding any part of this solution, please feel free to ask in the comments section.
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