For Texas pecan producers, 2016 is shaping up to be a bit less then they expected, says a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert. Most anticipated better yields and quality
Larry Stein, AgriLife Extension horticulturist, Uvalde, says producers in many locations around the central and southeastern parts of the state were disappointed by the quality and quantity of their pecans.
“Orchards haven’t yielded as much as growers expected,” he says. “It was a multitude of factors that reduced overall crop quality and yields.”
Scab pressure in the spring might have weakened the shuck tissues, and late-season rains in August may have compounded disease problems, Stein says. Cloud cover during August likely prevented trees from manufacturing food to fill kernels. Unusually warm temperatures allowed pests to proliferate later into the season as well.
Hickory shuckworms, walnut caterpillars, black aphids and fall webworms were some of the pests that contributed to poor quality and lower yields by ruining kernels or reducing leaf counts, He adds that much of the state’s heavy pecan production area in Far West Texas is a week or two away from providing yields and quality information, but he expects a hit-or-miss year for growers.
“Some producers (in the Far West region) might be harvesting, but most orchards likely need a good freeze to knock the leaves off,” he says. “So we’re waiting to see.”
Blair Krebs, Texas Pecan Growers Association associate director of sales and marketing, Bryan, agrees that it was a mixed year for producers, but says prices and demand remain strong for pecans. She doesn’t expect the Far West region to fare much better than other orchards around the state when it comes to quality and quantity.
She says some orchards’ trees presented good clusters of pecans that produced poor kernels or no kernels at all.
“We won’t know until they start harvesting, but it’s not looking outstanding,” she says. “There’s a little less production. There were disease issues, and there was hail damage in some areas.”
Stein says a positive outcome is possible from the warmer weather this season. Warmer temperatures in the fall and early winter mean pecan trees hang onto their leaves a little longer than usual.