Pecan growers in the Southeast are in the orchards this morning assessing the damage from the CAT 4 Hurricane Michael that ripped through last night causing excessive winds and dumping large amounts of rain in Georgia, Florida, Alabama and now making its way through the Carolinas.
Pecan growers with early pecan varieties like the Pawnee were scrambling earlier this week to get as much harvested as possible before the category 4 (at time of landfall) hurricane Michael, ripped through the southern states with wind gust of up to 75 miles per hour in pecan producing areas of South Georgia, South Alabama and North Florida. Yesterday hurricane Michael made landfall around noon and passed right through the world’s largest concentration of Oversize pecans. This southeastern area of the US produces the majority of the worlds Oversize pecans which, in turn, also produce most of the world’s largest pecan halves. The Mammoth and Extra Mammoth pecan halves are some of the most desirable pecans for the retail and gift pack industry. Every year around this time most pecan buyers begin to contract their pecan purchases for the season and for the year. While the 2018 pecan crop could be one of the largest in years, hurricane Michael has just consumed a significant portion of the largest pecan nuts in the market. Pecan growers and pecan scouts are in the orchards this morning assessing the damage, while clean-up crews hit the orchards in full force to clean up limbs and downed pecan trees to get the floors ready for harvest. One South Georgia pecan grower we spoke with said “we’re going through the orchard’s this morning to see what’s [been blown] down, we’ve got to get it ready for harvest again, everything’s opening up and we’ve got nuts on the ground.” The nuts he’s referring to, came down during the storm last night. Now pecan growers will race against the clock to get those nuts harvested and dried before the quality begins to deteriorate. However, with the amount of rain received in some areas, it could be several days before the ground is dry enough to get equipment back in the pecan orchards. Another issue will be “stick tights” with the high winds and rain. A very large portion of the pecan crop is on the ground and still in the husks, which at this point may be lost already. Pecan growers in the Carolina’s were just getting cleaned up from all the damage left by hurricane Florence last month on September 14th. After receiving more than 30 inches of rain in areas of North Carolina, growers in the area may be delayed yet again.