Pecan growers in the state of Georgia had long been members of the largest pecan producing state in the country until recent disastrous weather events devastated pecan production in the state when Hurricane Micheal ripped through the southern part of the state wiping out entire orchards, and a large portion of the harvest that year.
Since that time New Mexico has taken the lead as the largest producing state in the US, producing around 90 million pounds per year. New Mexico has been planting heavily over the past decade as the mild, semi arid climate is well suited for growing pecans. The desert-like conditions prevent scab as well as many of the insects that eastern region growers deal with. While the conditions are well suited, the availability of water is a concern with growing communities in the area, and the never ending struggle between farming and expanding development.
As Georgia pecan orchards recover from the damage and pecan growers replace downed trees, Georgia could once again reclaim the title as the largest pecan producing state in the US. Prior to Hurricane Michael making landfall in 2018 and destroying many of the orchards, Georgia was producing around 100 million pounds per year with variation from as low as 80+ million pounds to as high as 110 million pounds in a year. With the on and off years being the major reason for the production fluctuations.
As the trees recover, most growers in the Georgia area are reporting a good crop set. It is still quite early in the season and we will of course shed some of the crop set in June and July with the drop, as pecans attempt to fill out, but with the current crop on the trees, Georgia is looking to have a much better year than the last two.
Even growers not directly in the path of the hurricane have experienced prolonged damage to the trees and crop due to prolonged high wind damage. In our own orchards we have seen the effects of the high winds as we should have come back with a strong crop last year but results were quite disappointing. The sustained high winds damaged the end terminals causing damage beyond the 2018-2019 crop, but this year is shaping up slightly better.