, Muskogee, OK

Local News

November 26, 2009

Area pecan growers report poor harvest

By Keith Purtell — Area pecan growers say a combination of poor weather, a fungus called “scab,” and weevils have had a devastating effect on this year’s crop.

Consumers who buy local pecans will probably be getting out-of-state pecans instead.

John Harrison, who has 85 acres just south of Fort Gibson, said his yield will be greatly reduced.

“During a good year, I might get 15,000-25,000 pounds from the native trees and 2,500-3,000 pounds from the improved trees,” he said. “This year I might get a couple of thousand pounds of the native pecans.”

Harrison said he had a good crop last year, but expects 2009 to be “very poor” even though the rest of the United States is doing well.

There are several reasons.

“Maybe an overproduction last year would be one of the things,” he said. “Then, we had all the rain that was conducive to scab, so a lot of the nut hulls turn black and fell off, or didn’t fill out on the inside. And then the weevils started about the first of August. They’re the ones that make a hole in the pecan. All in all, it was a pretty poor season.”

Claude “Jerry” Gilliss of Oktaha, who has 40 acres of pecan trees that have produced well for years, said he has observed this entire area having problems with the pecan crop.

“A couple of weeks ago I came down from Tulsa through the Arkansas River valley there around Bixby and Leonard and Haskell,” he said. “I didn’t see a lot of pecans down there. There were some trees that had a pretty good set of pecans on them, but others didn’t have anything.”

Gilliss said his trees have been hit hard this year.

“At my place I’ve got a few up near my top branches,” he said. “But a lot of those are ‘stick tights’ that occur when you have very wet conditions during the fall. Or even during the summer time it can cause them to form.”

The stick tights are caused by a fungal infection that gets in the husk. It varies from tree to tree depending on how susceptible they are to that infection.

“With my trees, I don’t know whether it would be worth taking my equipment down there.”

Reach Keith Purtell at 918-684-2925 or Click Here to Send Email

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