The devastating destruction from hurricane Micheal has been felt for the past two years by pecan growers in the Southeast, but many growers believe this will be the year that the damaged trees will recover.
In early October 2018, just as pecan growers were entering their orchards with harvest equipment to begin shaking perfectly ripped pecans from the trees, a category 4 hurricane was brewing in the gulf of Mexico and headed toward the Florida panhandle to make landfall.
On October 10, 2018 pecan growers in Northern Florida, Southern and Middle Georgia, and the Carolinas experienced one of the worst storms to make landfall in recent history. The category 4 storm ripped through the Southeastern growing region leaving a wake of destruction in its path and ultimately wiping out nearly half of the pecan production in what was the largest pecan producing region in the world.
The 2018 – 2019 pecan crop was devastated and most growers in the path of destruction lost most, if not all of their pecan production that year. Many growers lost not only that years pecan crop, but also trees. Many orchards in the path lost a substantial amount of trees in their orchards and will not recoup those losses. For growers fortunate enough not to be in the direct path, only the current year’s crop was lost, or so they thought.
The 2019-2020 pecan crop also showed significant losses from the prior year’s hurricane. Even as most growers had cleaned up the damage, the sustained high winds caused longer term damage to the trees that were left standing. Most orchards in the affected areas saw very low production in last year’s harvest.
But not all hope is lost. While some growers were expecting a lesser crop last year most growers were not expecting such a blow to the overall production in the southeast last year. But the good news is, most growers seem to think this will be the year that the trees bounce back with a bumper crop. The affected trees have now had two year to recover from the damaging high winds and have a lot of energy stored up that will hopefully produce a good crop this year.
Georgia, prior to hurricane Micheal, was the largest producing state in the US averaging just over 100 million pounds per year. When hurricane Micheal wiped out the 2018 – 2019 crop in the area, Arizona took the title as largest producer at just over 90 million pounds. Georgia growers however are hoping to reclaim that title this year. With this year’s crop just beginning to form, growers have high hopes for the crop. With demand continuing its bull run, even in the face of the trade war, and now with talks of the phase one trade deal, growers are optimistic about the future pecan prices as well. A good crop with good prices will be a much needed boost to the devastated agricultural community in the Southeast.