Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on October 24, 1997. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Pecan Harvest Reflects Continued Improvement
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Delta pecan growers have more reason to celebrate than they have had in recent years as the state prepares for its largest harvest since the 1994 ice storm.
Dr. Freddie Rasberry, extension horticulturist at Mississippi State University, said the state has about a dozen commercial orchards, primarily in the Delta. This year's crop will be the largest Delta crop since the February '94 ice storm.
"Mississippi's pecan acres have been declining for the last 25 years or so. Every time a major hurricane or ice storm hits, we lose more trees," Rasberry said. "The '94 ice storm wiped out 1,000 to 1,500 acres."
The state has 12,000 to 15,000 acres of pecans, mostly in smaller, private orchards.
Rasberry said the state may harvest about 3.5 million pounds of pecans, which is about half the annual amount before 1994. Growers harvested 2.5 million pounds last year and 1 million in 1995.
"Pecan trees are alternate bearing, meaning they have more fruit every other year," Rasberry said. "This is shaping up to be one of the good years."
Randolph Smith of Raymond, co-owner of Smith Pecan Farms, said 1997 started out like it would be a "best-ever year," until the drought hit.
"We thinned the nuts from trees in July and August to cut down on the load. Overloaded trees may have cut down on the nut size a little," Smith said. "September rains dictate the quality of the nuts if the trees are free of disease and insects. That lack of rain in September may decrease the weight."
Smith said nuts did not open on time because of the dry conditions, thus delaying harvest.
"Rains in the middle of October helped the nuts start opening. We're about a week behind normal harvest time," Smith said. "At a time when we normally would have harvested about 10,000 pounds, we'd only harvested 1,000 by Oct. 23."
Rasberry said prices have been moderate, running between $1.35 and $1.50 per pound on the wholesale market. Seedlings are between 45 cents and 85 cents per pound.