Louisiana pecan growers will have plenty of nuts for holiday cooks—just not quite as many as last year's recording-breaking yield, says John Pyzner, pecan-fruit specialist at Louisiana State University's Pecan Research and Extension Station in Shreveport.

This year's total harvest is expected to be 10 million to 12 million pounds, down slightly from an average of about 14 million pounds. Last year's yield shot up to 21 million pounds, which was unusual, Pyzner says.

"It's normal to follow a year with higher-than-average yields with one that has lower-than-average yields," Pyzner says. "We aren't surprised."

Adverse weather conditions affected the yield of top-quality pecans at the station, says Jere McBride, LSU AgCenter Northwest Louisiana regional director.

"In June and July there was so much rain, we couldn't control the insects and diseases," McBride says. "This prevented many growers, especially in northern and central Louisiana, from spraying their orchards properly for scab disease."

Extremely dry weather in August, September and October caused nut filling problems during that critical stage of pecan development, he says. In addition, the lack of rain caused the hull to stick to the shell so that many pecans were late opening, delaying harvest.

Wholesale pecan prices for growers trended down early in the U.S. market and have steadied, Pyzner says. Georgia, typically the No. 1 producer in the United States, retains that rank again with record yields. Louisiana is usually in fourth or fifth place, behind Texas and New Mexico, and competes with Arizona and Oklahoma in terms of yield.

Retail prices for good-quality pecans should be similar to last year's prices, he says.

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