New Mexico is replacing Georgia as the top producer and shipper of pecans following the devasting affects of Hurricane Michael a year ago, if predictions hold.
Georgia has been the nation’s largest supplier of pecans for years, accounting for about an 88 million pound harvest and representing one-third of U.S. pecan production.
This has change for the 2020 shipping season a year after Hurricane Michael’s 115-mile-per-hour winds ravaged nut tree orchards Pecan growers are still struggling as they harvest this year’s crop.
The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service reports in an average year, farmers harvest between 1300-1400 pounds of pecans per acre. However, but this year’s production is down by more than 50 percent.
The service believes growers will be fortunate if they average 500 pound per acre this year. Pecan trees lost a large percentage of limbs.
The USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service notes although U.S. national pecan production should increase this year by over 20 percent, with an estimated 281 million pounds, Georgia production will plummet to 76 million pounds, followed by Texas (47 million pounds, up 8 ½ percent), Arizona, and Oklahoma.
At the same time New Mexico is estimated to have an increased production of 6 percent based on a forecasted record high of 97 million pounds for the current harvest. New Mexico first surpassed Georgia last year after the howling hurricane winds decimated some 32,400 acres, downed trees, and dropped production dramatically.
Pecan trees take nearly a decade to produce and a couple years more to turn a respectable profit. This means with the amount of trees lost mean, may take up to 10 years for Georgia growers to fully recover.
New Mexico produces pecans on nearly 52,000 acres in the southern part of the state with most product coming from the Mesilla and Hatch Valleys and the Pecos River Valley, although expansion in pecan acreage is being noted further north as raising pecans continues to replace cotton acreage because cotton prices continue to drop.