‘Light’ Crop: Weather Impacts SE Pecans

Clint Thompson Alabama, Georgia, Pecan, Top Posts

Photo shows pecans being cleaned after harvest.

By Clint Thompson

Early observations from this year’s pecan harvests indicate what growers feared throughout the summer and early fall – pecan quality and yields are down this year across the Southeast.

“Now we’re starting to see in these mid-season harvest varieties, we’re seeing them come out of the orchard a little light. Where it looks like they had a good crop, the pounds just aren’t there. It’s not looking real good from that perspective,” University of Georgia Extension pecan specialist Lenny Wells said.

Harvests for mid-season varieties are in their second week. The weather, starting in the spring and continued through the summer, negatively impacted the crop’s quality.

“The cold spring which pushed back the crop probably also affected pollination some. The rainfall (this summer); the scab, which, it’s bad in places but with the pressure we’ve had, it’s not as bad as I would have thought it would be, and most growers did a pretty good job of keeping it off,” Wells said. “The other big thing that goes a long with the rainfall is the extended period of cloudy weather that we had. I think that has really affected the kernel fill.”

Lack of Sunshine

Wells said there was a seven-day stretch from Sept. 16 to 22 where solar radiation was half of what it should have been for the kernels to fill out right. Growers can apply fungicide sprays to help protect their crop during a rainy summer. But management options are zilch if the sun doesn’t shine.

“There’s absolutely nothing they could have done about that. It came at probably the worst time it could have happened,” Wells said. “I think if our crop had been on time, it probably wouldn’t have affected us as much. But because the crop was a week to 10 days behind, it hit right in the heart of that kernel filling stage.”