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Native pecans account for 80% to 90% of Oklahoma’s total pecan production. (Photo by Todd Johnson, OSU Agricultural Communications Services)

Smaller pecan harvest expected this fall

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Media Contact: Gail Ellis | Editorial Communications Coordinator | 405-744-9152 | gail.ellis@okstate.edu

Drought is likely to affect the state’s pecan crop this year. Becky Carroll, Oklahoma State University Extension fruit and nut specialist, said some orchards appear to be on track while others are sparse with little to no pecans.

Dry conditions are causing a lot of issues for native pecan growers who don’t have the ability to irrigate their orchards.

“During July and early August when the nuts are sizing, we like to get about 2 inches of rain or irrigation a week, and some places haven’t had any rainfall since the beginning of June,” Carroll said. “The pecans may be very small this year, and it may reduce overall production for the state due to the size of the nuts because they won’t weigh as much.”

A typical pecan harvest in Oklahoma yields about 13 million pounds of nuts, but the current drought could reduce that number to 11 million pounds.

“If the pecans are small during this sizing stage when the shells start to harden, then we want to have enough water to fill those nuts properly to get good kernel development, and that takes about 2 inches (of water) a week as well,” Carroll said.

If small nuts receive a lot of rain or water during the next few weeks, they will fill properly, but large pecans that remain dry will harvest with lower quality.

On the other hand, Carroll said the current drought climate could prevent a major weevil infestation.

“If we don’t have rainfall, we may not have a weevil problem this year, because they’re in the ground and usually come out of the soil when we get a big rainfall,” she said.

Carroll discusses when to watch for weevils in the nut development phase and previews a Native Pecan Harvest Field Day on SUNUPTV, OSU Agriculture’s television show.

Sign up now for the Oct. 13 field day in Claremore.

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