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Good Crop Expected For State's Pecans
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Despite drought and low expectations, state growers are expecting a good pecan crop this year.
Dr. Freddie Rasberry, pecan specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, estimated the state will have 3.5 million to 4 million pounds of pecans. Mississippi produced less than 1 million pounds last year.
"I was expecting a poor crop, but in fact we set a heavy crop. It just goes to show you can't fool Mother Nature," Rasberry said. "Somehow in the fall of the year the trees overcame the depressed condition of last year and set a heavy crop."
Drought this year caused pecan trees to abort much of their crop in the middle of summer. Rasberry said this was not necessarily a bad thing.
"Since the trees aborted a lot of nuts, the quality of those that remained is better," Rasberry said.
The big question now is whether the trees were able to fill out the nuts that remained. Drought in early summer causes trees to produce smaller pecans; drought in later summer prevents the pecans from filling out.
"We set a good size crop, and I'm hoping the trees lost enough pecans so that what we kept can fill out and be of good quality," Rasberry said. "This year they may not make all the nuts they set, but what may happen is we will have a pretty good crop next year."
Randolph Smith, owner of Smith Pecans in Raymond, said he expects pecans on his 500-acre orchard to be slightly smaller than normal and the quality somewhat down.
"The size is going to be down a little bit because of the early dry weather and the quality is going to be off on some varieties because of the late drought we had," Smith said. "It's an overload crop, and that's one reason the quality will be down."
Smith characterized this year as "very trying" as he fought more insects and disease than normal. Despite these problems, the heavy crop should allow him to make a profit this year, Smith said.
Rasberry said prices should be good this year because of the poor carryover from last year's low crop.
"I expect a high price to begin with, but when all the other states' pecans come on the market, it will depress prices," Rasberry said.