Submitted to: Pecan Grower
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/8/2004
Publication Date: 10/10/2004
Citation: Wood, B.W., Reilly, C.C. 2004. Frances impacts pecan research. Pecan Grower. 16(2):5. Interpretive Summary: Hurricane damage is a natural threat affecting pecan orchard enterprises in the southeastern and southern U.S. Observations after hurricane Frances revealed that tree damage in orchards can be reduced by usage of hedge pruning or central-leader trees. Adoption of these precautionary measures by farmers will substantially reduce the economic threat of hurricanes.
Technical Abstract: Tropical storm Frances pelted the USDA-ARS Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory, as it did much of the Georgia pecan industry. Tree damage was at first largely limited to loss of fruit, foliage, and small branches and limbs. However, after about 8 inches of rainfall, the saturated soils could no longer provide enough anchorage, resulting in trees blowing over in 40-60 mph winds. The facility lost about 150 large trees as micro-bursts devastated sections of orchards. Major limb damage also occurred on almost all non-hedged Stuart, Schley, and Desirable trees. Conversely, Moneymaker and Moore orchards experienced little damage. It is also noteworthy that hedge pruned trees, regardless of variety, exhibited almost no structural damage; thus, illustrating a major side effect advantage of hedge pruning. There was also severe damage to several large-tree research plots, resulting with the destruction of several multi-year studies.