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Louisiana pecan growers getting unexpected yields

This year's plentiful Louisiana pecan crop is a pleasant surprise following last year's hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It is unusual to have a good pecan crop following a hurricane, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist John Pyzner.

Many orchards had a lot of broken limbs, fallen trees and lost much of their foliage because of the hurricanes. “It usually takes at least two years for pecan trees to recover,” Pyzner said. “Little production is expected the year following a hurricane.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's October forecast projected Louisiana as producing 19 million pounds of pecans — 36 percent above Louisiana's average production of 14 million pounds.

Miles Brashier, LSU AgCenter county agent in Pointe Coupee Parish, which is Louisiana's top pecan producing parish, said, “Pointe Coupee has a good pecan crop and should produce 5 million to 5.5 million pounds.”

Ben Littlepage, a pecan grower from Colfax, La., remarked, “I probably have the best pecan crop that I have had in three years.”

Pyzner said the reason for the unexpected pecan crop is not well understood. Two possible reasons are that the hurricanes struck late in the pecan production cycle, and Louisiana had below average pecan crops the previous two years.

Louisiana growers should also benefit from the below average national crop, which is projected at 201.4 million pounds — 22 percent below the national 10-year average of 256.6 million pounds.

The light national crop should help Louisiana growers obtain good prices on their pecans. The two major pecan producing states of Georgia and Texas are both expecting to be at least 30 million pounds below last year's crop.

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