Randy S. Sanderlin, Coolman, Denise | 4/26/2005 8:28:40 PM
SHREVEPORT – Rains in May and June seem to have hampered Louisiana’s 2004 pecan crop, and September hurricanes on the Gulf Coast greatly reduced the crop in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
Dr. Randy Sanderlin, a plant pathologist at the LSU AgCenter’s Pecan Research Station near Shreveport, said early harvest reports indicate Louisiana growers probably will bring in fewer pecans than originally predicted for this year.
"This year’s crop was moderate in size," Sanderlin said. "But now it’s down because of the rains, which caused an increase in pecan scab disease."
Louisiana producers report finding a lot of scab disease in their orchards, according to LSU AgCenter experts.
"They couldn’t get in their orchards to spray disease preventive fungicides because of the rain," Sanderlin said.
Scab disease is caused by a fungus. It is the most economically significant disease of pecan trees and can infect leaves, stems and nuts. Infected nuts generally are either dropped before maturity or low in weight.
The chances of scab disease occurring increases with frequent rainfall and high humidity in an orchard – although pecan varieties vary in their susceptibility to infection by the scab pathogen.
While rains in May and June and the subsequent diseases they brought were bad for the 2004 pecan crop in Louisiana, the September hurricanes that blew in along the Gulf Coast were disastrous for the overall crop, as well.
Despite those problems, Sanderlin said there is some good news for pecan producers.
"Prices are expected to be higher," Sanderlin said. "It’s the old supply and demand rule – if supplies are down and demand is high, prices will be high."
The Louisiana pecan crop was up in 2003 – with producers harvesting 17.7 million pounds of pecans. That crop exceeded the state’s five-year annual average by 2.1 million pounds and resulted in a total economic value of nearly $18.7 million.
For more information on pecans and other topics related to agriculture and natural resources, as well as information on health, finances, economics and more, go to www.lsuagcenter.com.