By Esendugue Greg Fonsah, Lenny Wells and Jeffrey H. Dorfman
Continuous assessments of the impact of Hurricane Michael by the Georgia Pecan Team shows approximate acreages, trees and values lost as a result of the hurricane. Our assessment depicts that at least 17% of the total Georgia pecans equivalent to 27,455 acres or 741,285 trees were lost. Our preliminary estimate shows that the current crop loss is $100 million and the tree loss is $260 million while the loss of future income is $200 million. Summing these up reveals a total loss of $560 million to the Georgia Pecan Industry as a results of Hurricane Michael. These values are preliminary and subject to change as more data is gathered.
According to Lenny Wells, “one of Georgia’s most popular pecan varieties is ‘Desirable’, which is a favorite of both the gift pack and export markets due to its large size and high quality. There was a high percentage of ‘Desirable’ pecans grown in the Dougherty/Lee/Mitchell County area, which suffered some very severe losses.” However, growers in those ‘Desirables’-heavy counties still have enough trees to keep them operational while they start replanting to replace the fallen trees. ‘Desirables’ are difficult to grow and manage in the warm, humid climate of Southwest Georgia. As a results, most of these farmers, who have been in the pecan business for generations, will replant their groves with more scab resistant, lower cost, and easily grown varieties.
This loss will impact not only our farmers, some of whom have been growing pecans for generations, but also the community and entire Georgia economy.
Our hearts go out to the hardworking pecan farmers and affected communities as they go through these difficult times.
For more information, contact the Georgia Pecan Team:
Lenny Wells, Associate Professor and Extension Horticulture Specialist for pecans, University of Georgia, Tifton, GA 31793; Tel: 229-386-3424.
Esendugue Greg Fonsah, Professor and Extension Agribusiness Extension Economist, Fruits, Vegetables and Pecans, University of Georgia, Tifton, GA 31793; Tel: 229-386-3512
Jeffrey H. Dorfman, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 30602; Tel: 706-542-0754