Pecan Specialist: Idalia Impact ‘Pretty Severe’ on Southeast Georgia Crop

Jim Rogers Georgia, Pecan, Weather

By Clint Thompson

Southwest Georgia is not the only area in the state with a substantial amount of pecan acres. The southeastern part of the state has grown tremendously over the past two decade, says Lenny Wells, University of Georgia Extension pecan specialist.

Idalia Impact
Photo courtesy of UGA Extension.

That is why Hurricane Idalia’s trek through the region on Aug. 31 left a devastating impact on Georgia’s pecan industry.

Idalia Impact
Lenny Wells, University of Georgia Extension pecan specialist

“Over the last 10 to 15 years, there’s been a lot of pecans planted in that eastern part of the state. I would say it probably accounts for about a third of the pecans grown in the state. Then I would say in that region, roughly about a third of the crop has been lost,” Wells said. “We’ve seen orchards where there are tens of thousands of trees down, and in those particular orchards, anywhere from 50% to 80% of the crop was blown out of the trees. As it got north, I would say of Berrien County, it probably wasn’t quite as strong. You still see damage in those areas up through Waycross and up into the Reidsville area, but it’s a little more sporadic than what you see further south.”

While the storm was not the size of Hurricane Michael when it devastated South Georgia in 2018, Idalia’s impact was Michael-like for those growers who lost pecans and trees.

“It’s not to the scale, acreage wise, that Michael was, and the storm, once it got up into Georgia wasn’t as strong as Michael stayed all the way through Georgia, but in those areas along the state lines, it was pretty severe,” Wells said.

Wells said it is difficult to forecast yields for this year, because nuts that are still in trees could have been impacted by the high winds. They could have incurred damage to their vascular systems.

“It could be worse than what we realize at this point,” Wells said.

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