Aerial drones have been deployed throughout the south east to help assist pecan growers assess and record the damage done to their pecan orchards during the wake of hurricane Michael.
Pecan Growers all over the southeastern United States are cleaning up the down pecan trees and limbs due to the high winds and rain brought through the area by hurricane Michael last week. The Georgia pecan crop has been hit very hard this year and early estimates now predict that Georgia may have lost around 35% +/- of the 2018-2019 pecan crop. As expected pecan growers in the area started cleaning up immediately after the high winds and rains subsided. However, several officials warned that this could cost pecan growers money if they don’t accurately record the damage. The USDA has in the past offered pecan tree loss assistance as well as cleanup assistance to pecan growers affected by natural disasters such as this one. Just recently the USDA received notice to set aside funds to help affected pecan growers from last year’s hurricane damage. The FSA is out in full force attempting to visit as many orchards as possible as fast as possible, but with limited man power, it will ultimately be up to the pecan growers to accurately record the damage and loss sustained in the orchards. That is where pecan growers are seeing aerial drones come in handy. Aerial drones have been flying over pecan orchards taking pictures and videos to allow pecan growers to more quickly assess the damage and accurately record the damage from above. Growers are utilizing this tool to allow them to record the damage, so they can get into the orchards much faster to clean up. One grower we spoke with said “them drones can get pictures from above faster than we can from the ground, and its easier to see the overall damage”. It is important for growers to record the damage before they clean up in order to get help with the cost of the lost pecan trees and the lost pecan crop.