Texas pecan crop projected to exceed 50 million pounds

By Adam Russell

UVALDE – Texas pecan growers expect to increase production this year, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist.

Dr. Larry Stein, AgriLife Extension horticulturist, Uvalde, said the Texas Pecan Growers Association estimated at its recent conference the state’s pecan crop would exceed 50 million pounds.

Stein said producers statewide face a variety of production hurdles, but so far 2017 looks to be an overall good year for pecans.

“The crop is good in spots and not so good in spots,” he said. “A lot of it is related to whether the producer had a big year last year and whether they did a good job taking care of the trees to produce a decent crop this year.”

The Texas pecan crop is projected to exceed 50 million pounds, according to estimates by the Texas Pecan Growers Association. Dr. Larry Stein, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist in Uvalde, said producers face a variety of hurdles, but 2017 is on track for high yields. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Kathleen Phillips)

Stein said pecan trees that produce large yields one year typically experience a dramatic drop in production the following year.

“Too many pecans, or over-cropping, can be a challenge,” he said. “Producers need to manage crop loads and shake the trees to thin out their pecans a little. It’s like having too many mouths to feed, so to speak. Reducing the crop load makes for better kernel quality and reduces the stress on limbs and the tree overall.”

Stein said much of the state’s pecan production is concentrated in West Texas, around Fort Stockton and El Paso. Irrigation has been a necessity due to hot, dry conditions.

“Trees need 1 inch of water per week up to budbreak,” he said. “As the kernel is forming the trees will need 2 inches of water per week to have good fill. You get some of that from rain when you get it, but otherwise you have to irrigate.”

Stein said producers should be preparing to make insecticide applications for hickory shuckworms, which burrow into the shuck and disrupt the flow of water and nutrients to the kernel. Pesticides should be applied as the half-shell is hardening, before the pest burrows into the nut to lay eggs.

Pecan weevils are also a common pest problem in pecans, Stein said. The weevils typically emerge from the soil around trees after August rains when pecan kernels enter the dough stage.

Weevils deposit eggs in the pecan and the larvae devour the pecan kernel, he said.

“We expect a good crop, but producers can minimize losses and take necessary steps to help the trees have a good year this year and prepare them for a good 2018,” he said.

AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:

CENTRAL: Temperatures reached the 100-degree mark on some occasions, and the heat has taken moisture away. Grasses were in fair shape, but beginning to show signs of heat stress. Producers were still cutting and making hay. Some producers started harvesting corn but excess moisture has set back some harvesting. Sorghum harvest was in full swing. Irrigation on cotton was also in full swing.  Brush spraying was being done. Livestock were doing well on native pastures and in good body condition. Fly numbers were increasing. At least 90 percent of the counties reported good soil moisture and overall pasture and range conditions. Overall crop and livestock conditions were rated good.

The 12 Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Districts

ROLLING PLAINS: Summer weather arrived in the Rolling Plains with 100-degree temperatures widespread. Pasture and cotton conditions had the most change throughout the week, as the dry and very hot temperatures moved in. Pastures were drying up and supplemental hay was being fed.  Cotton was looking good to very good in both dryland and irrigated fields. Some areas received rain that will help keep the cotton going. Other areas reported hot and dry conditions. Flea hoppers have been reported in some fields and minor aphid pressure in milo was reported. Forages were still holding up but the topsoil was starting to lose moisture rapidly. Livestock were in good condition.

COASTAL BEND: High temperatures caused conditions to dry up quickly. These dry conditions  allowed most producers to get into fields for harvest, so grain sorghum and corn harvest was nearly complete. Cotton harvest was also progressing and defoliation continued daily. Rice harvest was slow to start, but should be in full swing by the end of next week. Hay production was in full swing. Range and pasture conditions deteriorated quickly over the last two weeks, as high temperatures and lack of rainfall persisted. Livestock remained in good condition.

EAST: Soil conditions remained mostly hot and dry throughout the region. Pasture and range conditions were fair to good in most counties with excellent conditions in Rusk, Shelby, Marion, and Gregg Counties. Recent rainfall improved growing conditions in Cherokee County. Hay production was well underway across the region. Rains were coming on a regular basis in Trinity County. Producers were having a hard time getting hay without getting rained on. Pastures and hay fields in Polk County were doing well with the spring and summer rains. Subsoil moisture was adequate in most counties, but short in Houston County. Topsoil moisture was adequate except for Houston County with short conditions and Gregg County with very short conditions. Anderson County hay quality was moderate to good. Producers in several counties were still battling armyworm infestations in hay meadows. Gregg County showed a slowdown in armyworm sightings with the drier weather. Bermudagrass stem maggots were found in a few hayfields in Polk County. Stock ponds were full. Wild pigs continued to be a problem. Farmers markets were active with local produce. Watermelon yield and quality was good. Older planted peas were drying down as new crops were maturing. Some corn was being harvested. Producers were spraying for sugarcane aphids on Milo in Anderson County. Cotton looked good. Livestock were in good condition. Weaning and selling of market-ready calves and cull cows continued.

SOUTH PLAINS: The South Plains received spotty rain showers during the week, but more was needed. Temperatures moderated with no days in July at or above 100 degrees. Irrigation was in full swing. Most of the older irrigated cotton was in bloom with good square set, but the dryland cotton was struggling. Producers were delayed by either insurance adjustments or ground conditions, being able to replant. However, planting conditions improved, and so did pasture and rangeland conditions due to receiving some rain.  But subsequent hot and dry conditions led to only fair conditions.Grain sorghum ranged from seedling (replanting) to bloom and some sugarcane aphids have been found.

PANHANDLE: Hot, dry and windy conditions affected most of the Texas Panhandle. Moisture was needed throughout the region. Soil moisture was rated short to adequate. The corn crop was tasseling and pollinating. The irrigated cotton crop was doing well but still behind. Range and pasture land were dry. Hall County had continued hot and dry conditions. Crops and livestock continued to battle the heat. Hemphill County continued the hot and dry weather pattern and a rapid decline of the top and subsoil moisture conditions. There were triple-digit days and a few scattered thunderstorms along with low humidity over the last 14 days. Pastures quickly began to lose their green and ability to provide summertime grass growth. Overall, the county’s cowherd was in excellent condition. Breeding season was over for most herds and ranchers will soon be thinking about pre-weaning management decisions.

NORTH: Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels ranged from mostly adequate to short, with a few counties reporting surplus. Most counties received no rain with the exception of Fannin and Cooke Counties, which received .5 inches to 2 inches. Temperatures were hot, ranging in the mid 90s. The early soybean crop looked great and was podding. Hay producers were in full swing getting the hay out. Milo continued to look good. Corn looked nice and was being harvested, and cotton was doing well. Pastures looked good for this time of year. Aphid and headworm pressure was light and only a few farmers had to spray. Livestock were in good condition and the spring born calves looked good in spite of the very hot daytime temperatures and humidity.

FAR WEST: Temperature highs were in the 90s and lows in the 70s. There were rain reports of .97 inches to 2.76 inches for the week. There was some significant hail damage in Fort Hancock. Rain has fallen in some areas, but not much benefited cotton farmers. Cloudy conditions persisted throughout the week. Pasture and range conditions have greened up over the past few weeks due to rain.Shipping of  lambs and goats was finished for this year’s crop.

WEST CENTRAL: Weather conditions were seasonable, mainly hot and dry with triple-digit temperatures most of the week. Soil moisture was depleting and grasses were drying out. A few areas reported isolated showers. Fire dangers continued to increase. Cotton was progressing well with some fields showing signs of moisture stress. Cotton in areas that have received rain looked fair to good. Growers were spraying weeds in cotton fields. Cutting and baling hay continued. Hay reports have been very good. Corn and grain sorghum were maturing at a steady pace. Range and pastures were in mostly fair condition, but need rainfall. Livestock remained in fair to good condition and the cattle market was extremely good. Pecan crops were progressing and home gardens were in good condition.

SOUTHEAST: In Chambers County, rice harvest began. Some hay was baled last week; however, very little was rolled due to sporadic rains. In Fort Bend County, harvest continued for grain sorghum, with yields ranging from 5,000 pounds to 8,000 pounds per acre. Corn harvest began with good yields. Cotton was maturing. Livestock and pastures were in good condition. Temperatures and humidity were making hay curing a challenge. Jefferson County received scattered showers.Lee County needed rain. Hay was looking good and most producers finished a second cutting. Soil moisture levels throughout the region ranged widely from adequate to very short with most ratings in the adequate range. Fort Bend, San Jacinto and Orange Counties reported 100 percent adequate. Rangeland and pasture ratings varied widely too, from excellent to poor, with fair ratings being the most common. San Jacinto and Orange Counties reported adequate moisture.

SOUTHWEST: Hot and dry weather with some spotty rainfall ranging from 0.2 to 0.6 inches, which improved ranges in portions of the region. Corn harvest continued  and grain sorghum harvest was full steam. Winter grain fields were for planting. Some Bermudagrass fields experienced damage from early infestations of fall armyworms, however, damage was minimal due to rapid response of landowners. Due to drought, ponds drying. Livestock continued to do well, but grazing conditions  deteriorated in areas without rain.

SOUTH: Very hot, dry windy conditions and light showers continued throughout the South Region for the past week. In the northern parts of the region, weather conditions were very hot and very dry across the Atascosa County area. Grain sorghum and corn were being harvested and irrigation was being applied on cotton and peanut fields throughout the area.  Some pastures were  beginning to be de-stocked because of the hot and dry conditions. Land preparations for winter also took place in some areas of the county.  In Frio County, hot and dry conditions persisted and there was no rainfall. Corn and sorghum harvesting continued and should be completed soon. Cotton was in the setting boll stage and peanuts were in the pegging stage, with both crops being irrigated throughout the week. Pasture and range conditions continued to decline due to the excessive heat and, lack of rainfall. Livestock producers began supplemental feeding. Range and pasture conditions in the McMullen County area remained dry with soil moisture levels also very dry. Pasture grasses were dormant and trying to survive the hot and dry conditions. Forage quality continued to decline and supplemental feeding increased. Cattle body condition scores also declined, but most herds remained in fair condition.

In the the eastern parts of the region, range conditions throughout the Brooks County area were under stress due to the lack of rainfall.  In Duval County, conditions were dry with high heat. Pastures looked good to fair this past week, but the heat index was beginning to affect those conditions. Ranchers needed to monitor stock tanks. Native grasses were beginning to turn brown in some locations of Jim Hogg County.  Maverick County received some rainfall in different areas of the region, which was sufficient enough to temporarily ease the dry conditions.  Also in Maverick County, vegetable crop producers were reported to still be producing watermelon and cantaloupe, some other crop forages like hay or silage almost ready to be harvested. In Zavala County, the sorghum and corn harvest was active throughout the county. Due to dry conditions, irrigation water applications were being applied to the cotton crops. Dry conditions continued throughout the Cameron County area.  Harvesting of sorghum, cotton and corn continued. Producers in the Hidalgo County area were busy working on field preparations for the upcoming season’s vegetables. In Starr County, hay baling, buffelgrass seed harvesting and grain sorghum harvesting continued. Supplemental feeding of throughout the area also continued. Some scattered showers occurred early in the week in areas, with some landowners reporting receiving two inches of rain.


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