Pecans are a major crop in Alabama and the United States.
Bill Goff, a pecan specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System says this year will not be a good one for pecan producers.
“The United States’ pecan crop appears to be about 170 million pounds,” says Goff. “That would make it the smallest harvest since 1998.”
Pecan industry forecasts from earlier in the year estimated the U.S. crop at an average of 213.6 million pounds. Goff says now that harvest is nearing completion in the Southeast and is underway in the West, it is obvious the crop will not be that large.
“The old industry adage "a short crop gets shorter" is readily apparent especially in the Southeast. Many Southeastern commercial growers are saying their crop is coming in about two-thirds of what they expected earlier in the season.”
He says one of the rainiest growing seasons on record is one factor, contributing to the worst incidence of pecan scab Goff has witnessed in his long career in Georgia and Alabama. The Desirable pecan variety crop, especially, was devastated by scab affecting nut size, quality, and volume.
In addition, most homeowners do not spray the pecan trees in their landscapes. Goff says most of the yard tree crop was lost except on resistant varieties like Elliott, or on seedlings.
In Texas and the Midwest, a short crop to begin with was decimated by crows, squirrels and predators and is reduced from earlier forecasts as well.
In the western states of New Mexico, Arizona and California, he says the crop varies somewhat by location because freezes and availability of water affected some orchards but not others. In particular, Goff says New Mexico benefited from late season rains that leached salts in soils and replenished soil moisture levels.
“The New Mexico crop appears to be as good as or even a little better than forecast.”
Goff says because of the short crop consumers should expect higher pecan prices.
“When you combine high consumption and continued export demand, it means prices should be very high in the future, especially for large nuts of good quality.”