NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

Windstorm Reduces Expected Pecan Crop

LAS CRUCES - Windstorms in mid-September and early October could decrease New Mexico's pecan yields by 5 percent this year, said a New Mexico State University horticulturist.

"Orchards with the most damage had pecans blown down in the Oct. 4 windstorm," said Esteban Herrera, with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service. "Pecan shucks (husks) had not opened yet, but were firmly adhering to the nuts' shells."

These pecans will be called "sticktights," and they won't be as filled out as other pecans. Also, the portion of the nut closest to the stem will be colored white instead of brown, because they will be slightly immature.

When the nut is immature, the shuck holds tightly to the shell and the nut inside is white," Herrera said. "As the nut matures, the shuck can be peeled off the shell more easily and the nut turns brown."

Pecans that were partially opened or already loose inside the shuck when they were blown down (San Saba and Bradley cultivars) will open normally once the shucks lose some moisture, Herrera said. "These nuts will shrink somewhat and weigh less than nuts that remained on the tree."

A windstorm on Oct. 22 didn't inflict much damage on New Mexico's orchards, because the nuts were more developed by that time and most shucks were open or loose.

The 1995 pecan crop has been estimated between 30 to 34 million pounds. The record crop for the state was 36 million pounds in 1993.

"Fortunately, it seems that pecan prices this year will be similar to last year," Herrera said. Hurricane opal damaged orchards in Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Hurricane Erin, on Aug. 3, also caused damage in Alabama, drastically reducing original crop estimates of 12 to 14 million pounds.

Pecan yields in Mexico will be lower this year due to drought. problems in Chihuahua, the country's main pecan production area. This was supposed to be a heavy production year for Mexico, but now the country's yield may be less than 30 million pounds, Herrera said.