Mary Ann Van Osdell, Sanderlin, Randy S. | 11/20/2009 11:36:48 PM
SHREVEPORT, La. – Rain has delayed the pecan harvest across the state by two to three weeks, but plenty of the crop should be available for the holiday season.
Observers expect this year’s pecan harvest to total about eight million pounds, which Dr. Randy Sanderlin, coordinator of the LSU AgCenter Pecan Research and Extension Station in Shreveport, calls an average crop. He said north Louisiana had a large crop, but south Louisiana numbers are still down because of the 2008 hurricanes.
Louisiana harvested 4.4 million pounds of pecans in 2008, which was nearly 10 million pounds below the state average of 14 million pounds, Sanderlin said. Pecans are grown in 39 parishes.
Dr. David Boethel, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor for research, says scientists at the pecan station have made “significant contributions to maintaining the sustainability and profitability of a national industry that is worth $300 million annually.”
Sanderlin said shellers predict about a $300 million value this year.
“A lot of the pecans are still on the trees,” Sanderlin said. “That is a good thing – they survived. But there may be a little loss from pecans floating in water for too long.”
The quality cannot be fully determined until the pecans go through a drying, curing and cleaning process, he said. No new insects or diseases threatened the crop this year.
The LSU AgCenter pecan research program, in existence since 1930, focuses on plant pathology, entomology and horticultural projects associated with commercial pecan production.
The pecan station is now selling pecans grown there. Several varieties are available at $1.75 to $3.75 per pound and can be cracked for an additional 50 cents per pound.
This year’s nuts didn’t fill out as well as they normally do because of a lack of sunshine to fill them out in October, and prices have been adjusted accordingly, Sanderlin said.
“The kernels are about 10 percent underweight but still have good flavor,” he said.
The station has established a 20-pound limit on the varieties Desirable and Schley.
Sales hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The station is located about four miles south of the Shreveport city limits off of Louisiana Highway 1.
Mary Ann Van Osdell