By Clint Thompson
Alabama pecan producers are optimistic about next year’s potential crop. But they are also keeping an eye on rising input expenses and the impact fertilizer costs will have on the bottom line.
That’s the message being conveyed to Bryan Wilkins, Alabama Extension Research Associate.
“They’re farmers, so they’re always optimistic, but they’re keeping an eye on things this year, too,” Wilkins said. “They’re looking at ways, just like everybody else, to maximize their inputs. With fertilizer being near $800 a ton, they’re going to take real hard looks at how they fertilize this year. A lot of them are talking about praying for a dry summer to maybe cut back some of their sprays. They’re just looking at ways to cut their inputs.”
Multiple factors contributed to a minimal crop this year in Alabama. Two hurricanes devastated areas in Mobile County and Baldwin County in 2020, which contributed to lost trees and stripped leaves for the 2021 crop. Since 2020 was projected to be a bumper crop, 2021 was already expected to be a down year. Then the persistent rains added to the diminished crop, as scab disease was a major problem.
“We were just like Georgia. We had a short crop. We knew we were going to have a short crop because of overloading and because of (Hurricane) Sally,” Wilkins said. “We knew going in we were going to be short, but then it rained all summer. . We had the same quality issues (as in Georgia).”
But optimism persists. Even through multiple natural disasters, Alabama pecan farmers eye a rebound in 2022.
“If all of the weather conditions fall in place and we get a good favorable bloom period, we ought to have a real good crop over here this year, honestly,” Wilkins said.