Texas pecan growers expect a limb-buster of a crop

10/11/2012 11:34:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

pecans in their hullsCourtesy Texas A&M AgriLife CommunicationsDry conditions reduced pest pressures, which typically would thin the overall pecan crop. Despite the drought, Texas growers say they expect to harvest an exceptionally large crop of 65 million pounds of pecans.

Typically, the crop is between 50 million and 55 million pounds, according to a news release.

Pecans tend to alternate bear, having a large crop one year and a smaller one the next.

The good news is this year's crop is a great improvement over the 2011 crop, which was cut in half by the drought.

As a result, consumer prices climbed.

This year's crop may drive down grower prices, and the large nut set is causing limb damage, according to Larry Stein, a Texas AgriLife Extension horticulture specialist in Uvalde.

During most years, insect pressure weeds out some of the nutlets before they fill out, reducing the weight on limbs.

"In 2012, the crop was large enough, and the insect pressure was so dispersed, that a lot of trees that would not ordinarily set that many pecans, set an overabundance," Stein said in the release. "As the nuts fill, the combined weight of the leaves and nuts is breaking limbs.”

Monte Nesbitt, an AgriLife Extension horticulture specialist in College Station, blamed the drought for the heavy nut set.

When stressed, pecan trees set more fruit as a survival mechanism.

Late rains also helped nutlet survival rate.

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