Pecan growers face a host of challenges, industry leaders say

05/09/2013 10:09:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

pecansCourtesy Agricultural Research ServiceDuring the past few seasons, the nation's pecan growers have faced challenges from Mother Nature and a stagnant market.

Now the proposed Food Safety Modernization Act is expected to add to their concerns, according to a news release.

That's because many pecan growers historically have grazed cattle in their orchards.

Should the measure be adopted as written, it would essentially eliminate the practice.

In fact, the Food and Drug Administrations is proposing that growers monitor all fields and orchards for the presence of animals.

"There is no doubt there will be more strict guidelines in place, and they won’t all be pleasant to implement," Rogers Leonard, Louisiana State University Ag Center associate vice chancellor, said in the release. "They probably will increase producers' input costs for production.”

Last year, pecan growers with later varieties experienced problems, such as scab in untreated orchards.

Hurricane Isaac also created challenges for the later varieties.

Even growers who did everything correctly had an average crop, and this season isn't starting out well.

Tom Childress, a Georgia grower, said the crop in his area is looking good but scab is already showing up.

Pecan weevil is showing up in north Louisiana, and growers should hang monitoring traps to determine whether the pest is present.

Growers attending a recent AgCenter meeting also heard about a proposal to create the U.S. Pecan Council, which would market the crop must like the Almond Board of California and the American Pistachio Growers Association does.

“We’ve been our own worst enemy,” Texas grower Mike Graham said in the release, citing a stagnate pecan market for the past 50 years.



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