By Clint Thompson
Hurricane Michael’s impact on the pecan industry in the Southeast still impacts pecan crop producers almost four years later.
Samantha McLeod, executive director of the Georgia Pecan Growers Association, explains how the storm disrupted the trees’ bearing process. It led to a bumper crop in 2020. Another is expected this season.
“We are anticipating a bumper crop here in Georgia, specifically in the Southeast after Hurricane Michael pretty much put all of our trees on the same alternate bearing cycle. We were fortunate in the past that the alternate bearing cycles canceled each other out throughout the state. But since Hurricane Michael shocked our trees so hard, they’ve all come back into production in the same years,” McLeod said. “We were anticipating a crop with lower volume last year, so we are anticipating a bumper crop this year. Especially with so many new acres coming into production in the next couple of years, we’re really going to be seeing a real heavy crop this year.”
Pecan crop production in Georgia was estimated at 70 million pounds in 2021. That was not even half the crop Georgia produced in 2020. Georgia produced 147.5 million pounds in 2020.
Bumper pecan crops don’t always equate to high market prices, however. Growers enjoyed a productive season in 2020 but were met with staggeringly low prices. McLeod is confident that will not be the case this year, especially following a down production season last year.
“We’re optimistic that the market will still play out in our favor to give the producers a good price. Supply is dramatically low. It is difficult for large processors and anybody to buy pecans in bulk. Even when we’ve tried to export some pecans, some of our growers who mainly do the exports can’t find enough to fill a couple of containers. We’re looking at a good stance I think,” McLeod said.