Nut development has really progressed over the last few weeks. We’re not seeing shuck split in this orchard yet, but there are some ‘Pawnees’ starting shuck split. UGA Extension Pecan Specialist Dr. Lenny Wells says, “‘Pawnee shuck split starting in South Georgia means that nut maturity is still about 10 days or so behind normal. The calendar date of nut maturity for a given variety varies from one year to the next because the date of fruit maturity is dependent upon the accumulation of heat units in the early spring. Our spring in Georgia was cooler in 2014 than in 2013.”
The photo on the right shows nut development of ‘Stuart’ on September 16th. The kernels are filling well and almost complete. Dr. Wells says, “‘Stuart’ nut maturity and shuck split is more prolonged and staggered, while that of ‘Schley’ is a little more uniform. Nut maturity in Schley normally precedes that of ‘Stuart’ by about 2 days on average. We had a pretty cold winter last year and this causes nut maturity of ‘Stuart’ and ‘Schley’ to be similar. Following mild winters ‘Stuart’ nut maturity may be delayed another 10-14 days due to its high chilling requirement, while ‘Schley’ maturity will remain roughly the same. ‘Desirable’ nuts (are) still mostly in the late water stage, although I did see some gel forming in some of them. From this point forward ‘Desirable’ nut maturity should develop rapidly. They always seem to linger in the water stage and then fill all of a sudden. I would expect that it will be late October or early November (depending on location) before harvest begins in earnest on these varieties.”
Economic Outlook- Dr. Lenny Wells
Chinese demand for pecans at this time seems strong. Size will play a large role in export prices offered to growers and our size is highly variable this year, largely as a result of scab pressure early and dry weather during nut sizing. Two weeks ago early contract offers I heard from various growers were at $2.20-$2.35 in-shell for ‘Stuart’ and $2.75 for ‘Desirable’. Over the past week, these prices seem to have gone up to around $2.40-$2.50 for ‘Stuart’ and $2.85-$2.95 for ‘Desirable’. I have heard blends priced in the $2.40-$2.45 range. Again, size will be the determining factor in price. Small nuts will not bring high prices.