Posts Tagged “Hurricane Michael”
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.
Hurricane Michael has dealt an estimated $230 to $300 million loss to Georgia’s fall vegetable shipments, according to preliminary estimates by University of Georgia agricultural specialists.
The University of Georgia report specifically cited:
***Fruiting vegetables such as bell peppers, at or very close to harvest, have suffered enough damage to foliage that sunburn will quickly damage the crop;
***Tomatoes, trellised cucumbers, and eggplants were all also severely damaged;
***Squash and zucchini crops saw near complete destruction in some areas while others seemed to fare better;
***and fall sweet corn, which is planted heavily in the most affected regions of southwest Georgia may be a complete loss in some counties.
The University of Georgia vegetable report points out damage to the fall vegetable industry caused by Hurricane Michael was significant for growers in southwest Georgia.
“It must be stressed that we are still evaluating fields and some of these numbers may change as we gather more information,” the report said. “Due to the widespread nature of the power outages growers may not have functioning coolers or irrigation pumps, which means that secondary losses due to inability to cool and pack harvested product or to irrigate crops in the fields may climb.”
In addition, the report notes disease pressure will increase on crops due to the rain and damage that plants may have received from the storm that occurred October 10-11.
Disaster report for growers will most likely be sought, according to the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association since very few vegetable crops in the direct path of the storm will be able to be salvaged. Few if any specialty crops have crop insurance.
The University of Georgia report estimates losses range from 30 to 100 percent of fall vegetables in the state, depending upon the location.
Vegetable production regions near Lowndes and Echols Counties may have some loss but are expected to have escaped the worst of the damage.
Fall vegetable shipments from Georgia are not typically as heavy as those of summer, but those in the ground were hit hard by Hurricane Michael. Just how hard will not be known for awhile.
The Category 4 hurricane hit near Mexico Beach in the Florida Panhandle and weakened to a tropical storm before sweeping across Georgia and the Carolinas. The fast moving storm moved out of Georgia on the morning of October 11th. The storm tracked across Georgia at a northeast bearing, moving from Bainbridge to Cordele and then Warner Robins, GA.
Wind was the primary cause of damage to crop with 75-mph winds taking a heavy toll. Near the path of the storm, cucumber, green bean and squash plants were broken by the wind.
Many of Georgia’s vegetable growers also grow cotton, which was devastated by the storm. Heavy damage to Georgia’s pecan crop also is expected. A good portion of Georgia’s vegetable growing areas, such as Lake Park, were south of the storm’s path.