Georgia pecan farmers escaped serious damage last week following Hurricane Sally’s trek through the Southeast. Alabama producers were not so lucky, however.
University of Georgia Extension pecan specialist Lenny Wells said Baldwin County, the heart of Alabama’s pecan production, was one of the counties hit hardest by Sally’s Category Two Hurricane status. According to the UGA Extension pecan blog, Wells said he has spoken with growers and pecan specialists in the area. The damage is worse than Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
“From the ones I’ve talked to down there, they’re going through the same thing we went through with Michael (in 2018) and the same thing they’ve been through before with Ivan and so many other storms,” Wells said. “It sounds pretty bad over there. I think it’s worse on one side of the bay than the other. I think the east side of the bay got the worst of it. But it’s pretty bad.”
Growers reported 25% to 75% of their trees down. That area received more than 20 inches of rain with 100 mph winds. Trees were laid on the ground and leaves and nuts were knocked off trees.
Impact on Georgia pecans
While Alabama producers were dealt a double whammy with excessive rainfall and high winds, Georgia’s pecan orchards experienced mainly flooding. There was between 6 to 8 inches of rainfall in some areas, according to the UGA Extension pecan blog.
“There wasn’t a lot of wind damage that I’ve heard about or seen yet,” Wells said.
Wells said this development may delay some growers from getting into orchards where Pawnees were ready for harvest. That is normally the earliest variety that is harvested. The remaining varieties will be ready in a few weeks.
“We’re probably three weeks away, maybe two, but two to three weeks away from really getting started with Elliott and some of the early October varieties that we harvest. Probably by mid-October, I imagine everything will be ready this year,” Wells said. “Crop is a little early.”