Texas Pecan Producers Seeing Mixed Results for Quality, Quantity

Pecan producers expected better yields and quality, but 2016 is shaping up to be a hit-or-miss year, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.

Dr. Larry Stein, AgriLife Extension horticulturist, Uvalde, said many locations around the central and southeastern parts of the state were disappointed by the quality and quantity of their pecans.

“Orchards haven’t yielded as much as growers expected,” he said. “It was a multitude of factors that reduced overall crop quality and yields.”

There was scab pressure in the spring, which might have weakened the shuck tissues, and late-season rains in August may then have compounded disease problems, Stein said. Cloud cover during August also likely prevented trees from manufacturing food to fill kernels. Unusually warm temperatures allowed pests to proliferate later into the season as well.

Hickory shuckworms, walnut caterpillars, black aphids and fall webworms were some of the pests that contributed to poor quality and lower yields by ruining kernels or reducing leaf counts, Stein said.

Stein said much of the state’s heavy pecan production area in Far West Texas is a week or two away from providing good accounting of yields and quality, but he expects a hit-or-miss year for growers.

“Some producers (in the Far West region) might be started harvesting, but most orchards likely need a good freeze to knock the leaves off,” he said. “So we’re waiting to see.”

Blair Krebs, Texas Pecan Growers Association associate director of sales and marketing, Bryan, agreed it was a mixed year for producers, but said prices and demand remained strong for pecans. She said she doesn’t expect the Far West region to fare much better than other orchards around the state when it comes to quality and quantity.

Krebs said some orchards’ trees presented good clusters of pecans that produced poor kernels or no kernels at all.

“We won’t know until they start harvesting but it’s not looking outstanding,” she said. “There’s a little less production. There were disease issues, and there was hail damage in some areas.”

Stein said there could be a positive outcome to the warmer weather this season. Warmer temperatures in the fall and early winter mean pecan trees hang onto their leaves a little longer than usual.

“The longer pecan trees hold onto their leaves the better it usually is the next year,” he said. “It can set them up for a potentially good crop.”

AgriLife Extension district summaries can be found here.

Source: Texas AgriLife Extension

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