Oklahoma pecan crop down

Despite dry weather and the threat of animal damage to this year’s pecan crop, pecan producer Scott Landgraf is counting his blessings. Landgraf and his family have 170 acres of irrigated improved variety pecan orchards and 60 acres of dryland improved orchards near Madill, Okla.

“I feel extremely thankful that we are able to harvest pecans in a year where so many people have been affected by drought, weevils and animal damage,” Landgraf says.

Landgraf, who has been a pecan grower since 1975, started a pecan retail operation on his place in the early 1980s. Ten years ago, he says, the retail operation really took off, and in 2000, the family built a new retail building, which also contains a processing facility.

“Our retail operation demands all the improved variety crop we can grow,” Landgraf says, adding that he hopes to continue to plant more acres to support it.

While Landgraf Farms was fortunate this year, other Oklahoma producers had a rougher time. This year’s pecan production in Oklahoma is down significantly from the 2005 crop. The National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Dec. 11 Crop Production report is forecasting production at 14 million pounds, which is 30 percent below their October forecast and 33 percent off 2005. Continued drought, unseasonably warm temperatures and animal depredation contributed to the decline.

Texas production is currently forecast at 36 million pounds, down 45 percent from the 2005 crop. Drought is the most-cited reason for lower production, but Blair Krebs, associate director of sales and marketing at the Texas Pecan Growers Association in Bryan says this is an off-bearing year. On the bright side, Krebs says, pest and disease problems weren’t too much of an issue in 2006.

“When there is less moisture, there is usually less disease and fewer pest problems,” she explains. “Most people are seeing excellent quality.”

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