Hurricane Irma and Georgia’s Pecan Orchards

Hurricane Irma’s winds affected a lot of people and businesses, including Georgia’s pecan growers.  “We lost about 500 trees and approximately 30 percent of our 2017 crop,” said Scott Hudson, with Hudson Pecan.  “But it could have been worse. Our homes and families are safe and that’s what matters most.  Hudson said that after clean up, the trees will be replaced and any damages repaired.  “The good news is we will able to meet our customers needs for this fall and next year, both in the U.S. and internationally,” he said.

 

Read more below about how Hurricane Irma affected Georgia’s pecan orchards and the 2107 crop:

By:  Megan Durisin (Bloomberg.com)

 

September 14, 2017, 7:00 PM EDT September 15, 2017, 9:38 AM EDT

 

  • Hurricane’s winds knock nuts off branches, blow down trees
  • Harvest in No. 1 pecan state Georgia may slump 30% from damage

 

Hurricane Irma’s come and gone, but her aftermath will continue to upend millions of lives and even put Thanksgiving pies at risk.

 

The storm tore through pecan orchards in Georgia, the No. 1 U.S. grower, just a few weeks before the crop is usually harvested. As much as 30 percent of production may have been lost after high winds sent pods flying off branches and blew down trees that in some cases measure several stories high, said Lenny Wells, a professor and pecan specialist at University of Georgia in Tifton.

 

At Lamar Pecan Company in Hawkinsville, the strong gusts toppled 920 trees, out of about 25,000. Close to a fifth of the operation’s crop may be lost, said R.G. Lamar, whose father and grandfather started the farm about four decades ago. He spent the day after the storm surveying damage in 40 orchards across six counties. It’s the most trees ever lost in one storm, and many that blew over were younger plants less than 15 years old.

 

“I was heartbroken,” Lamar said. “You work so hard to try to keep the orchards in good repair. I’ve seen wind that strong, but never sustained for that much time.”

 

While pecans are a niche crop — the nuts are often associated with holiday desserts — they’re among Georgia’s top agricultural commodities. National farm prices were already at the highest on record, averaging $2.59 a pound in the marketing year that ended in August 2016, the latest government data show. The gains came amid a surge in demand for U.S. exports in the past decade. Supply damage from Irma could spell even pricier pies for Thanksgiving feasters, who will celebrate the American holiday on Nov. 23 this year.

 

Lasting Damage

 

Georgia accounts for 30 percent to 40 percent of national output, and nearly all of the state’s orchards were affected by the hurricane, said Samantha McLeod, executive director of the Georgia Pecan Growers Association. Additional damage could occur from bruising on nuts that were knocked around by the wind, Christine Lensing, a senior economist at Greenwood Village, Colorado-based CoBank, said in an email. The storm may also trim output in the coming year because of the long-lasting damage to trees.

 

After slamming into Florida on Sept. 10, Irma’s wrath headed north to Georgia, bringing sustained winds of 20 to 40 miles per hour with gusts as high as 75 (120 kilometers), according to University of Georgia Extension. That made it “the most damaging wind event ever seen by the Georgia pecan industry,” the university group said in statement on its website.

 

“This storm, it’s like it was targeting pecan orchards,” said Jeb Barrow, the president of the Georgia growers group who also farms about 1,100 acres of the nuts in Jefferson and Burke counties. At his operation, about 400 trees were uprooted and expected yields of about 1,500 pounds an acre may drop by 300 pounds. Hurricanes don’t often blow far enough inland to cause this much damage to the state’s crops, he said.

 

Pecan trees can produce for decades. Some in the state are 100 years old. Many of the nuts flung to the ground this week are too young to be salvaged. To compound the problem, any new trees planted won’t bear a crop for about five to seven years.

 

“It looks like a logging yard,” Trent Mason said of the orchards at Fort Valley-based Mason Pecans, which lost between 3,000 and 4,000 trees on the farm’s 3,000 acres, where he’s a partner. “All you see is just tree after tree laid over. We’ll clean up and harvest what’s left.”

 

Last year, U.S. pecan farmers grew 269,000 pounds of the nuts, the most in four years, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. More than half of Georgia’s pecans are shipped overseas, McLeod of the growers group said.

 

Luckily for pie lovers, frozen stockpiles of the nut at the end of July were higher than a year earlier, which can cushion supply damage. Production from Texas and New Mexico — the other leading U.S. producers — can also help to offset losses from Irma. USDA typically makes an estimate of national output in October.

 

Several of the Georgia’s other signature crops have also been pummeled this season. As much as 80 percent of its blueberries and two-thirds of peaches were lost in a March freeze.

 

“We were poised for a very productive season, but now it will approach devastation for many of our growers,” said Gary Black, Georgia’s agriculture commissioner. “We’re going to have very far-reaching effects in the pecan industry.”

Calling all Gift Givers! This is the week to order Hudson Pecans!

This month of December is flying by!  We are enjoying the holiday rush, and the orders keep coming in…we know there will be lots of happy folks out there receiving Hudson Pecans for Christmas!  Don’t forget that THIS FRIDAY – DECEMBER 16th – is the LAST day to order for guaranteed Christmas delivery.  So what are you waiting for??  Visit our shop right now and finish checking off your list today!  We have delicious pecans, all sorts of delectable candies, varied gift boxes and baskets – something for everyone!  Get to shopping…Christmas is coming!

Thanksgiving is Here! Got Your Pecan Pie Recipe Handy?

Well, Thanksgiving week is here!  That happened fast, didn’t it?  No Thanksgiving is complete without a pecan pie, so we have been searching high and low for some new, fun, delicious pecan pie recipes for you.  We found this one on Garden and Gun’s website, and my-oh-my…does it sound scrumptious or what?!  This is perfect for Christmas, too, so don’t hold back – order your Hudson pecans today, and impress your guests with this and any of our other delicious pecan recipes.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Sorghum-Bourbon Pecan Pie (courtesy:  www.gardenandgun.com)
Serves 8

Ingredients

For the Crust
15 shortbread pecan sandies
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon for buttering the pie plate

For the Filling
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
⅓ cup dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup sorghum syrup
3 tablespoons bourbon
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups (6 ounces) toasted and chopped pecans

Preparation

For the Crust: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9-inch pie plate.

In a food processor, pulse the cookies and flour together until pulverized. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles wet sand. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pie plate. Bake until lightly browned, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

 

For the Filling: Put the butter, brown sugar, and salt in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is melted, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the syrup, bourbon, and vanilla. In a bowl, whisk the eggs together. Temper the egg mixture: slowly whisk ½ cup of the warm butter-sugar mixture into the eggs. Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan with the butter-sugar mixture and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is glossy, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pecans.

Pour the mixture into the crust and bake until the center feels set yet soft, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack; this will take about 4 hours. Serve at room temperature.

Tip: In the unlikely event of leftovers, wrap the pie plate tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Pecans – A Southern Holiday Tradition

There are very few dishes that represent Southern tradition more perfectly than a slice of pecan pie, with its dark custard filling and crunchy, nutty topping.  Add to that, Spiced Pecans, Cinnamon Pecans, Chocolate Covered Pecans…and the list goes on and on.

Sweet and buttery, the pecans that figure so prominently in many traditional Southern holiday recipes. They’re native to the Deep South, where the long, warm growing season provides the perfect growing climate. And they’re the third-most-popular nut in the U.S. behind peanuts and almonds, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.

 

Here at Hudson Pecans, we love our pecans and are so proud of our carefully nurtured product that we can’t wait to get them to you this holiday season.  Check out our recipe page for new ways to serve the South’s favorite nut…and there will be more to come!  Shop now on our website…we have gift boxes, pecans for baking, candies – we have it all.  Here’s to pecan season and another wonderful holiday season in the South!

Hudson Pecan Team Prepares Orchard for 2014 Harvest

Some people may think work in the pecan orchard is over once the harvest is complete, when in fact that is when work begins for the next season’s harvest. Like any great product it’s the work behind the scenes that results in something really special. And, growing pecans is not any different. Part of that work can include thinning the orchard of unhealthy or damaged trees to give healthy trees enough space for roots and limbs. The Hudson Pecan team, braving some of the south’s coldest temperatures in years, is busy this week marking and thinning trees in their 100-year-old Stuart pecan orchard.

Pecans: Spreading the Good News in Turkey

[This article first appeared in the USDA blog titled: Teaching the World to Eat Pecans and was posted by Kent Politsch, Chief, FSA Public Affairs, on December 18, 2013 ]

Do they like pecan pie in Turkey? They will soon if Randy Hudson has anything to say about it.

Hudson, his wife Mary Jo and their family operate Hudson Pecan Company in Ocilla, Ga. Currently, they have their hopes focused on Turkey as a potential new market. This past June, Scott Hudson, Randy’s son and company vice president, traveled with USDA’s Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services, Michael Scuse, on a trade mission to Turkey. Their goal was to introduce the pecan to prospective buyers.

The June trade mission was part of President Obama’s National Export Initiative to double exports by 2014. Agriculture exports have remained on record-breaking pace since 2009. The 2012 ag exports reached $135.8 billion, nearly tripling the values from 1999 ($48 billion).

Scott Hudson returned to Turkey in October with fellow Georgia grower Will Easterlin. They met with representatives of two of the largest nut processors.

“We spent five more days; made some contacts,” Hudson said. “They’re extremely interested.”

Hudson shipped 2,000 pounds of pecans to Turkey in November, a relatively small amount, but he’s hopeful it will lead to further sales. “We know there’s a market there.”

Randy Hudson’s great grandfather dug up a few naturally growing pecan trees and organized them into rows so he could manage his harvest in the late 1800s. Native Americans introduced the nut to settlers – pecan was named by the Algonquin Tribe and means “nut that needs a stone to crack.”

Randy Hudson inherited a 20-acre pecan orchard and turned it into a business in 1981. He said those 20 acres gave his two sisters and him an opportunity to attend college, so he has an emotional tie to the land and business.

His father was a county extension agent. Randy followed in his father’s footsteps and parlayed an undergraduate soil science degree into a Ph.D. Then he parlayed the 20 acres into 1,500 and became president of the Georgia Pecan Growers Association.

He had education and tradition, but what he didn’t have was an expandable market for pecans. Dr. Hudson said they weren’t making that much money until he took a chance and began to export his crop. Everything changed in the 1990s when the family introduced the pecan to new consumers in China. Hudson Pecan Company was soon generating revenue of $20 million annually selling their own pecans and marketing for others.

Turkey is now where China was in the ‘90s, according to Hudson’s Chief Operations Officer Phil Croft. Randy Hudson concurred, saying growers from South Carolina to California produce 300 million pounds of pecans each year but they began enjoying profitable margins only after the Chinese and other international buyers started eating pecans. International markets “made our company what it is today,” Dr. Hudson added gleefully.

He credits USDA with opening the door. With tight margins for domestic sales, there wasn’t much money for research and expansion until USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service introduced the Market Access Program that included funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation to help U.S. producers, exporters, private companies and other trade organizations finance promotional activities for agricultural products.

Dr. Hudson also credits the Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service with providing conservation plans and practices that prevent erosion around their orchards, making them good stewards and keeping their trees healthy. Programs also enable them to manage pests that threaten their trees and crops.

With support and encouragement from USDA, Hudson and other pecan growers are now concentrating on the Turkish diet. They’re shaking one hand at a time and introducing the pecan with every handshake, glad for the opportunity extended by USDA.

– See more here

New Study: Health Benefits of Eating Nuts

Check out this article regarding a recent study about the health benefits of eating nuts, including our favorite tree nut, pecans!

Nuts for you: New study finds eating nuts regularly seems to extend life span.

By: Linda Searing, Published: November 21

The Question: Numerous studies have found that some foods seem to increase logevity for people who eat them regularly.  Might nuts also have this effect?

This Study analyzed data on 118 men and women who had never had cancer, heart disease or stroke. Over a span of nearly 30 years, 27,429 of them died. Those who ate a one-ounce serving of nuts – roughly a small handful – seven or more times per week were 20 percent less likely to have dies for any reason than those who never ate nuts. Even those who ate nuts less than once a week had a 7 percent reduction in risk. Consuming nuts at least five times per week corresponded to a 29 percent drop in mortality risk for heart disease, a 24 percent decline for respiratory disease and an 11 percent drop for cancer.

Who May Be Affected? Adults. The health benefits of nuts have been attributed to their nutritional makeup, which is rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants and more. Nuts have been found in some studies to be helpful in preventing heart disease and diabetes.

Caveats: Data on nut consumption came from the participants’ responses on questionnaires every two – four years. All types of nuts were included – peanuts as well as tree nuts; however, the data did not include how the nuts were prepared (salted, roasted or raw, for example) and the findings did not differentiate by type of nut. The study was funded in part by the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation.

Find this study: Nov. 21 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine

Learn more about the heart healthy benefits of nut consumption at www.mayoclinic.com (search “nuts” Learn about healthy eating in general at www.choosemyplate.gov.

The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment’s effectiveness is rarely found in a single study.  Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.