Seminole Crop E News

Agricultural News for Farmers and Agribusiness in SW Georgia

Archive for the ‘Pecans’ Category

Pecan Harvest Begins

Posted by romeethredge on September 29, 2015

With pecan harvest already started on Pawnee, pecan growers will soon be in the heat of the battle to get the crop harvested and sold. Dr Lenny Wells, UGA Extension Horticulturist, gives this report.  DSC_9425

” I wanted to offer this overview of how the crop looks to this point and our current market situation. This does appear to be the best crop we’ve had in 2 to 3 years, with an anticipated 110-120 million lbs. The wet spring weather gave way to a dry June, which really helped save most growers from scab. There are still some pockets of scab in the state, mostly in the Albany area and over into Southeast Georgia on highly scab susceptible varieties, but growers did a pretty good job of keeping the nuts clean this year. Insect problems were light until August and September but aphids and mites came on with a vengeance at that time. Most growers sprayed multiple times for both pests late in the season.

The crop appears to be at least 10 days to 2 weeks early. We are seeing shuck split beginning on most of the mid-season varieties at this time. We are probably about 2-3 weeks away from harvest really getting under way on our main varieties, at least in the western portion of the state. Growers east of I-75 have historically started a little later. Nut size is much better than we saw last year and most of the nuts I have cut into or cracked open have been well filled. I’ve been hearing of a lot of pops in the Pawnees that have been harvested. While this is not an unusual characteristic for this variety, I am hopeful that we do not find a high percentage of pops in all varieties, which would indicate a pollination issue.

Contract prices have been mostly in the range of $2.60-$2.70 for Desirable, Cape Fear and Sumner (I am told China has developed a taste for Cape Fear and Sumner) and $2.15-$2.25 for Stuart. Domestic consumption appears to be up and the over-supply of small pieces from Mexico that hurt the domestic market a few years ago has been exhausted so we should see an improvement in prices on the domestic market.  Cold storage levels are lower than they have been since 2012.”

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Pecans – 2014 Crop

Posted by romeethredge on November 25, 2014

Dr. Lenny Wells, UGA Scientist, gives us a harvest update.

“Early estimates placed the 2014 Georgia Pecan crop at 80-90 million lbs. But,  as pecan producers have been gathering their crop, it has been obvious that the lbs making it into the wagons are not what they appeared to be on the tree. Current estimates have fallen to 70 million lbs or less. The rain we’re experiencing this week provides an opportunity to slow down a bit and take a look at some data to help explain the issues we see with this year’s crop. Nut size is obviously off and I won’t go as deeply into that issue since I covered nut size in my last post but nut size does play an obvious role in the reduced weight being accumulated. All the reasons I mentioned before— cool temps during nut sizing, drought, and lack of sunlight—played a part in the smaller nut size; however, pollination is also an important factor to consider whenever pecan quality is affected. In addition to small nut size, we see a significant percentage of “pops” or nuts that failed to develop kernel in this crop, which is almost a sure sign of poor pollination.

So, lets look at pollination conditions during spring of 2014. The first thing to consider here is that the crop was abnormally late. This dates back to the late bud-break we saw in the spring, a result of cool spring temperatures. Darrell Spark’s model shows that March temperatures have a strong influence on the date of budbreak, while April temperatures influence the rate of shoot growth and flower development.

From 1912-2003, maximum temperatures in Tifton during March and April average 69 and 77 degrees F respectively. For 2014, these temperatures were 65.7 and 74.7. This may not seem like much, but 3 degrees can make a big difference to a plant. By comparison, maximum March and April temperatures for 2012, a year with early crop maturity were 77 and 79 degrees, respectively. In addition, spring 2014 was wet in South Georgia. Average April rainfall for Tifton is 3.81″ from 1912-2003. We had 8.72″ in April 2014. Such cool, wet conditions are a perfect recipe for poor pollination.

UGA pecan breeder, Dr. Patrick Conner collects pollen shed and pistil receptivity data each year for the many varieties growing at the UGA Ponder Farm. He shared with me these numbers for Desirable and Stuart, which you can see below: (Click on image to enlarge)

Pollination Dates

As you can see, Desirable and Stuart normally match up very well with each other. The pollen shed period for one normally covers most or all of the other’s pistil receptivity . However, in 2014  Stuart pollen shed only caught the last 3 days of Desirable pistil receptivity, while Desirable pollen only covered the first 2 or 3 days of Stuart receptivity. While this simply serves as one pollination example in one location, you can see that its very likely pollination was off this year. Pollen shed matched up poorly with pistil receptivity and its likely that the days they did match up, poor weather conditions limited the ability of the pollen to disperse properly. These factors likely played a large role in the issues we see with the size and volume of the 2014 pecan crop.”

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Pruning Pecans

Posted by romeethredge on November 26, 2013

Pecans didn’t do very well this year mainly due to rainy weather making the scab disease worse. One thing that may help some is proper pruning, to allow light penetration and more air movement. Pruning lower branches so that equipment can move freely is also important.

We are rapidly approaching the dormant season for pecans and that means pruning time.

Here’s Richard Spooner doing some pruning on some young pecan trees. There are before and after shots.

Here’s a link to a UGA publication on pecans.

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During the late 1800’s, landowners began to recognize the potential profit of pecans in the southeastern United States. By the late 1800’s, several individuals near Savannah, Georgia had produced and marketed pecans on a small scale. By 1889, there were only 97 acres of pecans planted in Georgia.

Thousands of acres of pecan trees were planted in southwest Georgia between 1910 and 1925. Most of these trees were initially planted as real estate investments rather than for nut production. Thousands of acres were sold in five and ten acre units, primarily in Dougherty and Mitchell Counties, which are still today the hub of Georgia’s pecan producing counties. By 1920, Georgia was producing 2.5 million pounds of pecans.

By the 1950’s, Georgia was ranked as the top state in the nation for pecan production.

Today, Georgia pecan orchards may range in size from just a few trees to several thousand acres. The state continues to be regarded as the top pecan producing state in the U.S., with over 144,000 acres planted to pecans. An early harvest date compared to other areas of the nation which produce pecans often results in good prices for Georgia pecan growers who produced $233,941,290 in farm gate value during 2010.


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Pecan Harvest

Posted by romeethredge on November 2, 2012

Eric Cohen of R, R and E Pecans, is harvesting pecans this week here in Seminole County. Their headquarters is in nearby Brinson, Georgia where they have cleaning and high tech sorting equipment for nuts coming from the thousand or so acres of trees that they work.  I was amazed at the efficiency and speed of the pecan harvester in the orchard. The harvester holds 3500 pounds of nuts and when full, he stops and dumps the nuts into a wagon hydraulically. This was just the first of about 3 passes that will be made, over time, to harvest the pecans as they fall from the trees.  Eric says that the yield seems about 20 % off this year and the prices are lower as well but still ok, mainly due to the increased export demand of pecans over the past few years. Harvest is early this year and is going quickly, as we are about 70% done here. Pecan demand in the US is pretty constant but the Chinese have really been enjoying this tree nut in recent history. The Cohens have done a good job of seeking out markets and now send about 90% of their pecans to China. Eric says the Chinese prefer the larger nuts and they size them to keep their customers happy there.  Eric brought me an example of how the Chinese market pecans in their country. There wasn’t any English on the container at all but their was a little phonetic lettering , so I googled a translation and this is what it was: “Friends and Guests Snack Food”. They treasure the pecan and so that helps us with agricultural exports.

This year UGA’s Ag Forecast meetings will be looking at Ag Exporting so here’s a link to the site so you can find out more about these events across Georgia. We will have one of the events in Bainbridge this year.

Here are some pecan harvest photos and Chinese product photos. Here is a link to a video I took of the harvest.

Video of Pecan Harvest.


































Here comes the harvester after the nuts have been raked to the center.

Eric Cohen with the machine that gets the nuts off the ground.

Getting ready to dump pecans into the trailer.



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