By Clint Thompson
The earliest pecan varieties are a couple of weeks away from harvest.
As Georgia growers and industry leaders take stock of this year’s crop, fortunately, it is not as bad as it could have been, says Lenny Wells, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension pecan specialist.
“It’s certainly worse than we’d like it to be. Really, considering all the scab pressure, disease pressure that we’ve had, it’s actually pretty good, overall. Of course, you’ve got places where it’s bad and we are going to lose some nuts to scab this year,” Wells said.
“But for the most part, growers did a good job of keeping it off considering all the pressure we had, all the rain. We’ve got some new fungicides that are going a long way in helping with that, too.”
The scab disease pressure is at its highest than in recent memory; even higher than 2013 when excessive rains highlighted the summer season. This year’s summer rains were consistent. Even when it was not raining, cloudy, overcast skies presented challenging weather conditions for Southeast growers.
“I do have some concerns at the moment of all the cloudy weather, how that’s affecting the kernel fill and all that. I’m a little worried we’re going to see some quality issues from that,” Wells said.
Wells was not as optimistic, however, in his diagnosis of Alabama’s pecan crop. He traveled to the Alabama Pecan Growers Association annual meeting on Thursday. The state’s crop is still reeling from Hurricane Sally that ravaged the state in 2020.
“They’re worse off than we are because they had a bad hurricane last year, about a year ago from the day of the meeting. Their crop is extremely light anyway from that,” Wells said.
Scab is a fungal disease that infects the leaves or nuts of pecan trees. If it hits the nut early enough, scab can cause the pecan to blacken and fall from the tree. Some growers spray between 10 and 12 times during an average year to fight scab, Wells said. Scab thrives on trees that have received moisture. That is why a quick rain event is important and not prolonged rainy weather of several days in a row.