Published on 08/29/17

UGA-Tifton to host annual Georgia Pecan Growers Association Field Day Sept. 7

By Clint Thompson

Georgia is closing in on the last few weeks of the 2017 pecan growing season, a make-or-break time for the crop and its associated profits.

University of Georgia Cooperative Extension experts will be on hand at this year’s Georgia Pecan Growers Association Field Day to equip farmers with the information they need for a successful harvest. 

Insect research, disease management strategies and irrigation will be covered at the field day, set for Thursday, Sept. 7 at the UGA Ponder Farm in Tifton, Georgia.

UGA scientists, including pecan breeder Patrick Conner, plant pathologist Tim Brenneman, UGA Extension entomologist Will Hudson and UGA Extension pecan specialist Lenny Wells, will deliver the latest Georgia pecan agricultural research. The field day will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at noon. A lunch will be served at the Tifton Campus Conference Center following the field day.

“This field day is a great way for the University of Georgia to talk about its research regarding pecans,” Wells said. “The producers and industry consultants who attend this event every year generally have questions about timely topics, like insects and pecan scab disease. I hope the information and research presented at this event will answer any questions they might have.”

Wells will speak about cultural management practices, such as irrigation and fertilization needs.

The Ponder Farm, located at 28 Ty Ty Whiddon Mill Road in Tifton, Georgia, is home to UGA’s pecan research. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. The workshop is free for association members and $20 for nonmembers.

According to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, pecans generated $355 million in farm gate value in 2016.

“Pecans have always been a staple of Georgia’s agricultural economy, especially here in southwest Georgia,” Wells said. “It continues to be a profitable crop for growers.”

Georgia’s pecan growers are currently preparing for harvest season, which usually starts in late September. While they are in the home stretch, growers must stay vigilant during the last few weeks of the growing season, Wells said.

Producers should be finishing their fungicide sprays for pecan scab, a fungal disease that thrives in moisture. Susceptible pecan varieties, like ‘Desirable,’ require additional sprays. Wells expects these to conclude over the next couple of weeks.

“We’ve had a lot of disease pressure from all the rain we had this summer,” Wells said. “From what I’ve seen, most growers have done a really good job of staying on top of it and managing the disease well. You’ll see a little bit of scab in places on susceptible varieties, like ‘Desirable’ and ‘Pawnee.’ But considering the pressure that has been out there, the growers have done a really good job at keeping that to a minimum.”

Wells also warned pecan growers to be mindful of insect management during August and September when there is insect pressure from both foliage-feeding insects, like aphids and mites, and nut-feeding insects, like weevils and shuckworms.

“There’s a lot of stress on those trees at this time, not to mention the fact that we’re at peak water demand for pecans,” Wells said. “Growers need to make sure they water their trees well to fill the nuts out and (ensure) good quality.”   

Clint Thompson is an agriculture writer based in Tifton, Georgia.

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