Lingering Impact: Pecan Production in Two Alabama Counties Remains Low Following Hurricanes Sally and Zeta

Clint Thompson Alabama, Pecan, Top Posts, Weather

Hurricane Sally damaged crops and structures along Alabama’s Gulf Coast when it hit Sept. 16. Cassebaum Farms in Lillian in Baldwin County sustained damage to its pecan crop.

By Clint Thompson

The impact from a pair of devastating hurricanes that wiped out pecan production in two Alabama counties last year is still being felt today.

Bryan Wilkins, Alabama Extension Research Associate, discusses what percentage of this year’s pecan crop should be expected in Baldwin and Mobile counties.

“Baldwin and Mobile counties are pretty slack. Sally hit a year ago (Sept. 16). A lot of our trees lost their leaves over here in Baldwin County especially, and then Zeta went up and got Mobile County. Those two counties, we’re probably looking at maybe 20% to 30% of a crop,” Wilkins said.

After Sally’s arrival in mid-September, Zeta’s arrival in late October impacted Mobile County and into Washington County.

Alabama producers were likely facing decreased production this year anyway following what Wilkins termed, “the best crop we’ve had in years,” in 2020. Since pecans are alternate bearing, the crop’s yields were expected to drop. But the hurricanes a year ago ensured production would be low for two consecutive seasons.

Trees were knocked over, and leaves were stripped off those that were not toppled. What resulted were trees that were unable to put a return crop on.

“I know several of our guys that never pulled their sprayer out of the barn or only sprayed three or four times where normally they spray eight or nine,” Wilkins said. “I’ve talked to one or two already that have told me they didn’t have enough of a crop to pull the harvester out of the barn.”