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Scab Pressure Mounting in the Southeastern US

The current pecan crop growing in the southeastern US is nearing the finish line for this year’s pecan harvest beginning in October, but problems with scab pressure could stunt the crop before harvest season arrives. 


Pecan growers in the southeast have faced some tough seasons over the past few years with hurricanes and high winds damaging orchard trees as well as completely destroying the crop in 2018-19. The damage from the severe weather has caused reduced production in many orchards in the southeast, but this year may be the year the trees “bounce back”. 


Since hurricane Micheal devastated orchards in the southeast from north Florida, up through the Carolinas, the pecan crop in the southeast has suffered significantly. Georgia took the hardest with growers losing roughly half of their 100 million pound crop for the season, and countless trees forever. 


This year however has seen a big recovery in the lost crop and the damage to the trees. The sustained high winds during the storm seem to have caused lasting damage to the pecan trees as last year’s crop was dismal for the trees in the path of the hurricane and high winds. This year has seen much better recovery from the trees, and growers are expecting a “bumper crop.”


But the crop is not to the finish line yet. Scab pressure has been mounting with constant rains and near perfect conditions for scab to thrive, growers in the southeast have had a tough time combating the scab conditions. While some pecan cultivars have fared better than others, many varieties have been difficult for growers to keep clean. 


While some scab is tolerable on the leaves and the nuts, the scab continues to thrive in these current wet and humid conditions leaving growers to pull out all the stops when trying to stop the spread pecan scab. If not properly managed the scab will continue to grow causing damage to the trees and ultimately this year’s pecan crop. 


Harvest season is fast approaching with less than 60 days until the early pecan cultivars being ripen and orchards ready for harvest, but the fight for growers against scab is not over yet, as growers must keep the pecans and the trees clean for a few more weeks until this years crop is ready to harvest.