Inclement Weather Hits Pecan Industry with Major Setback Though New Grower Interest on the RiseTue, 30 Oct 2018 11:28:26 CDT
Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays caught up recently with Dr. Charles Rohla, ag systems manager of the Noble Research Institute to talk about the current state of the pecan industry as harvest season gets underway - albeit a bit later than normal as rains have kept harvesters sidelined for several days. In addition, inclement weather in the southeastern pecan growing region has severely stunted production. According to Rohla, the extent of the damage could impact production over the next decade or even longer. Listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“It’s estimated in Georgia, they’re going to lose at least 50 percent of their crop - 750,000 trees are down,” Rohla reported. “So, it’s going to have an impact on production for probably the next 10 to 12 years and maybe even longer than that.”
Here in the central region, late season rains have hampered harvest progress in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana. The extensive moisture has also lowered crop quality in these areas which speculators say has dragged what was likely a 300+ million lb. crop down to 230 to 240 million lbs. Rohla says this will put significant supply pressure on the market as domestic consumption is typically around 260 to 280 million lbs. He says the industry will most likely have to resort to importing pecans, possibly from South Africa and/or Mexico to keep up with demand over the holiday season. However, New Mexico and Arizona are both expecting larger than normal crops this year. Rohla insists the two states will carry the industry this year.
While the industry is certainly dealing with its fair share of challenges, though, the good news is that the interest in pecans continues to grow.
“Over the last 10 years we’ve seen an increase in people looking into pecans as an enterprise,” he said. “For this region, mostly smaller growers usually on the range of five to twenty acres, but we’re seeing some larger acres going in - 60 to 80 even 500+ acres in Oklahoma.
“There’s huge potential. With the current state of the market - prices are going up. So, I think in the future we will continue to see more people being interested.”
In the meantime, Rohla and others at the Noble Research Institute continue to conduct research on the pecan tree to improve the plant’s root system and root stalk structure - looking for ways in which to increase its nutrient and water uptake. Rohla hopes this research will not only help plants weather the ups and downs of its production lifecycle, but might also lead to earlier producing trees as well. With the growing interest in pecans, a tree that can be grown and brought into production quicker would speed up the process of getting a grower in business. As of now, a grower can expect to wait 10 to 15 years before their trees are up to full production.
Hear Rohla and Hays speak more about the pecan research being conducted at the Noble Research Institute, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below.
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