By Clint Thompson
Interest in producing pecans in the Southeast has not waned; even with prices plummeting in recent years and input costs skyrocketing.
Growers are still establishing orchards, and those interested in producing trees are signing up for the pecan beginner’s class, says Lenny Wells, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension pecan specialist.
“We still have a fair amount of interest in that class; probably not as many new growers getting into it as there were 10 years ago. I still get a lot of calls about people wanting to plant pecan trees for the first time. There’s still a lot of interest,” Wells said.
This year’s class will be held on Tuesday, March 28, in conjunction with the Georgia Pecan Conference in Perry, Georgia. There is plenty for producers to learn, especially considering topics like costs of production, insect pests, fertilizer needs, disease management, weed control and variety selection.
“A lot of people just coming into it for the first time just have the perception that you just go out there and plant a tree, and in a few years come back and pick up some nuts. We try to dispel that myth, and that’s why we lead off with the cost of production. I usually tell them that I’m leading off with this to clear the room,” Wells joked.
“The cost of production has gone up. The cost of establishment has gone up, and I think a lot of it now is about managing expectations. When we started doing this class, maybe 10 years ago, there was a lot of excitement, a lot of interest surrounding pecans because the pecan market was so strong and prices were so good and everybody was interested in it. Even now, you may get people coming into that class that still thinks that’s how it is. It’s just about now managing those expectations.
“There’s really no reason to do it if it’s not something you’re generally going to enjoy doing. There’s easier ways to make money. You can be successful in making money with pecans, but it’s a lot of work. You just have to know what you’re getting into.”