Pecan growers in Northern Florida, Southern Alabama and Southern Georgia are busy cleaning up the aftermath of the high winds and rains of hurricane Michael that came through on October 10, 2018.
Dump wagons full of pecan wood instead of pecans is now a common sight in most pecan Orchards in South Alabama, North Florida and Southern Georgia. Hurricane Michael ripped through during the midnight hours of October 10, 2018 leaving a wide swath of damage to the largest concentration of pecans in the world. Georgia is the largest pecan producing state in the US by volume. The area most heavily affected by Hurricane Michael also happens to be the largest producing area in Georgia. In fact, it is the largest contiguous pecan Orchard on the planet. At a time when pecan Growers would normally be shaking trees, sweeping and blowing windrows, and of course harvesting pecans, growers are now replacing those activities with large crews picking up sticks, limbs and sawing up downed pecan trees. This has been a very challenging time for many pecan growers in the area; some growers have lost their entire crop for the year, while others have lost their entire orchards. Some pecan growers in the area are still able to salvage some of this years pecan harvest, but they are now racing against the clock to clear the downed limbs and gather the pecans before quality deteriorates. The USDA Farm Service Agency held an educational series yesterday in Tifton, to educate affected growers on various types of help the government has to offer. The news is not all bad with this area of the country, affected pecan growers are already planning to replant. “This gives us the opportunity re-plant with better varieties” said one Baconton, GA pecan grower. The area has been in production for over 150 years, many older and vastly mixed varieties exist, or used to exist, in the area. Reports are coming out from sources all around the industry on damage and loss. Perhaps the most thorough report available is from Dr. Lenny Wells the Associate Professor and Extension Horticulture Specialist for pecans at the University of Georgia. Mr Wells has done a detailed estimate of the damage on a county by county basis, and has estimated the overall crop loss to the state of Georgia at a whopping 50%, and an estimate of 27,455 acres of tree loss. You can read Dr. Lenny Wells full articles at the link below.
For now pecan clean up and harvest are synonymous throughout the states, while for others plans of replanting are the top priority. The pecan market is slowly reacting to enormous losses in Georgia, while heavy rains in central Texas may be planning to consume even more pecans from the already overcommitted 2019 pecan inventory.