Source: AgriLife Today
Pecan producers expected better yields and quality, but 2016 is shaping up to be a hit-or-miss year, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert. Dr. Larry Stein, AgriLife Extension horticulturist, Uvalde, said many locations around the central and southeastern parts of the state were disappointed by the quality and quantity of their pecans.
“Orchards haven’t yielded as much as growers expected,” he said. “It was a multitude of factors that reduced overall crop quality and yields.”
There was scab pressure in the spring, which might have weakened the shuck tissues, and late-season rains in August may then have compounded disease problems, Stein said. Cloud cover during August also likely prevented trees from manufacturing food to fill kernels. Unusually warm temperatures allowed pests to proliferate later into the season as well.
Hickory shuckworms, walnut caterpillars, black aphids and fall webworms were some of the pests that contributed to poor quality and lower yields by ruining kernels or reducing leaf counts, Stein said.
Stein said much of the state’s heavy pecan production area in Far West Texas is a week or two away from providing good accounting of yields and quality, but he expects a hit-or-miss year for growers.
“Some producers (in the Far West region) might be started harvesting, but most orchards likely need a good freeze to knock the leaves off,” he said. “So we’re waiting to see.”
Blair Krebs, Texas Pecan Growers Association associate director of sales and marketing, Bryan, agreed it was a mixed year for producers, but said prices and demand remained strong for pecans. She said she doesn’t expect the Far West region to fare much better than other orchards around the state when it comes to quality and quantity.
Krebs said some orchards’ trees presented good clusters of pecans that produced poor kernels or no kernels at all.
“We won’t know until they start harvesting but it’s not looking outstanding,” she said. “There’s a little less production. There were disease issues, and there was hail damage in some areas.”
Stein said there could be a positive outcome to the warmer weather this season. Warmer temperatures in the fall and early winter mean pecan trees hang onto their leaves a little longer than usual.
“The longer pecan trees hold onto their leaves the better it usually is the next year,” he said. “It can set them up for a potentially good crop.”
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries:
CENTRAL: The district reported cooler temperatures and more moisture with light rains in the forecast. Most fields were too wet for field work. Conditions were windy with gusts up to 30 miles per hour. Small grains looked good throughout the district. The pecan harvest was good on managed orchards, and prices were good. Winter grasses were coming on and planted wheat for grazing was in good shape. Cattle were in good condition with no supplemental feeding. Most counties reported good soil moisture and overall rangeland and pasture conditions. Crop conditions were good as well.
ROLLING PLAINS: Fall weather set in as cooler temperatures and damp conditions arrived. Cotton harvests were underway. Pastures and rangeland were in good condition with winter rye and forages beginning to pop up. However, an abundance of dried grasses still remained and caused some concern for wildfires. Winter wheat was in good to excellent condition. The frost did not bring killing temperatures in some areas, but summer weeds and grasses were impacted in various degrees. Livestock were in good condition with plenty of grazing available, and supplemental feeding was only occurring on a small scale.
COASTAL BEND: Light rain showers helped germinate recently planted cool-season forages, but germination remained slow due to the lack of moisture. Some producers began applying fertilizer. Armyworms continued to be an issue in some areas. Pecan harvests should wrap up in the next few weeks. Cattle remained in good condition, and fall calves were looking good.
EAST: Much-needed rainfall fell across the district with amounts from 1-2 inches. Conditions remained on the dry side with subsoil and topsoil reported as adequate to short. Pasture and rangeland conditions were fair to good. Pond levels were down drastically in Gregg County. Producers in Marion County were harvesting fall gardens before the first frost. Some areas have already had a frost. Winter forages were emerging with rains and temperatures in the 60s during the day and 40s at night. Houston County’s cattle market was rising. In Shelby County, the cattle market was still soft. Livestock were in fair to good condition. Fall calving continued in Smith County. Producers in several counties were feeding hay to cattle as the grass was dormant and short in some locations. Some producers were feeding supplements. Tick and fly control on cattle continued in Upshur County. Wild pigs were active and caused damages to pastures and hayfields.
SOUTH PLAINS: Cotton harvests and ginning continued across the district. Cotton harvests were hampered somewhat by high humidity and windy conditions. Cotton yields varied but were mostly better than expected, and lint quality was very good. Rust was detected in some area wheat fields in Lubbock County. Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels were short to adequate. Pastures and ranges were in fair to good condition.
PANHANDLE: Conditions were dry and windy, and temperatures for the district were closer to normal. A good general rain was needed throughout the district as soil moisture levels were mostly short. Cotton harvesting progressed well. Yields on the cotton were surprisingly good with 1.5-3 bales per acre reported. Wheat was making good progress but needed rain. There were some reports of moisture stress in wheat fields. All corn and sunflowers were harvested with just a few fields of grain sorghum remaining. Producers weaned the last spring calves, and fall calving was winding down. Many producers were waiting on a freeze to assist with sugarcane aphid honeydew problems. Stocker cattle were starting to be put out on the earliest- planted wheat acres. Producers were preparing land for the upcoming season and working in compost. Hansford County had a hard freeze. Milo harvests were in progress but nearing completion. Cattle were put on corn/milo stalks or irrigated wheat for winter pasture. Pasture and ranges were mostly poor to good. Supplemental feeding of cattle on rangelands was more active. Cattle were in good condition.
NORTH: Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels varied from adequate to short. Rain provided much needed moisture to winter pastures. Cooler temperatures also helped winter grasses. The wheat and oat crops looked good, especially early planted wheat. Most summer crops were harvested with the exception of a few cotton fields. Cattle were in good condition. The cattle market rebounded a little in the last two weeks, and prices for calves looked better. Most weaned calves were shipped to market or moved to winter pastures. Some producers started feeding hay but pastures were still producing ample forage for others. Feral hog activity was high. A large ladybug population caused some problems.
FAR WEST: High temperatures were in the 70s with lows in the 30s. The first freeze of the year was reported. Conditions were windy. Spotty showers fell across the district with reports of 0.10-2 inches of rainfall. Cooler nights started the defoliation of mesquites, and perennial grasses were beginning to cure. Approximately 95 percent of cotton was harvested. Wheat made good progress and pecan harvests began. The last cutting of alfalfa was being baled. Grass and weeds were growing well, which increased the threat of wildfire. Many ranchers opted to retain weaned calves to graze excess forage due to low feeder prices and to alleviate wildfire risks. Livestock experienced some minor sicknesses from drastically changing weather and temperatures.
WEST CENTRAL: Temperatures remained very mild, but cooler temperatures were expected soon. Scattered showers fell and soil moisture conditions remained very good. Some small-grain planting continued. Fields were wet and planting was delayed in many areas. Wheat and oat fields continued to look good and made good progress due to warm conditions. Cotton harvests were underway where they could access fields. Cotton yields were good. Rangeland and pastures remained in good condition due to recent moisture and warm temperatures. Warm-season grasses matured and were beginning to go dormant. Many pastures were still green with broadleaf weeds and forbs. Winter grasses were starting to grow. Livestock remained in fair to good condition. Producers turned out livestock to graze on wheat and oats. Pecan crops were doing well and coming on strong. Harvest was underway with varying reports on quality.
SOUTHEAST: A cool front briefly dropped temperatures. Morning and evening temperatures were cooler and daytime temperatures were moderate. There was some moisture, but more was needed for pastures. Rain was forecast. More winter ryegrass was planted due to the expected rain. Livestock were in good condition with plenty of grass in well-managed pastures. Row crop producers were mostly caught up on field work and could use some rain. Burn bans were still not in effect. Jefferson County had not experienced a frost yet as other surrounding counties have. Soil moisture levels throughout the district ranged widely from adequate to very short with most ratings in the adequate range.
SOUTHWEST: Cooler temperatures continued and traces of precipitation fell. Subsoil and topsoil conditions remained pretty much similar to prior weeks. Winter wheat and oat plantings were about done and pastures looked good. Some areas had their first freeze that put an end to warm-season vegetation growth. Livestock and rangelands were in good condition.
SOUTH: Dry conditions were reported throughout most of the district. Only a few light showers were reported in some areas. Additional moisture was needed for winter forages on ranges and pastures as conditions continued to decline. Some pastures were still in great shape in areas where moisture levels were good. Temperatures remained high for this time of the year. Nights were cold and days were mild. There was a light frost. Peanut fields were harvested. Wheat and oats were irrigated. Cotton ginning continued. Some supplemental feeding of livestock began and body condition scores on cattle remained fair to good. Very little field activities occurred. Most farmers winterized fields and were hoping for additional moisture. Mild conditions were favorable for gathering and working livestock. Cull cows were being marketed and beef cattle markets were holding steady. In Zavala County, the spinach harvest was very active for both fresh-market and processing varieties. Onions, carrots and cabbage made good progress following irrigation. Fall corn crops were progressing and maturing. Sugarcane harvests continued, as well as hay baling on irrigated pastures. In Hidalgo County, sugarcane, citrus and vegetable harvests continued.