Pecan growers struggle through drought -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Pecan growers struggle through drought

May 23, 2007

Meigs-- For Jim Thompson, farming is a family business and their staple is pecans.   "My brother John and myself we farm about 900 acres of pecans, and then we do about 500-600 acres of row crops," he says. 

Thompson farms has pecan trees in Thomas, Grady, and Mitchell counties. This year has brought new, harsh challenges.  "My father is 86 years old and he says it's the driest spring he can remember," says Thompson. In fact if the land doesn't get an inch and a half of rain by the end of the month, it will be the driest spring on record.  

"The majority of ours are irrigated. We've had the water running now for about 6 weeks. Hadn't cut it off and don't plan on cutting it off," Thompson explains. 

But somewhere around 3/4 of Thomas county's pecans are not irrigated.   "The growers that don't have irrigation are really suffering because I would say in the next few weeks these trees are going to start aborting the nuts that are on the trees," says Thompson.

If the drought continues, come harvest time in mid-October, we could see significantly less pecans for sale.  "The people that are fortunate to have any nuts this fall, the price will be good," Thompson says.

But even these growers have to be cautious. If pecans get to expensive, buyers may start substituting them for other types of nuts. 

For now, Thompson says they have a good crop of nuts set, and is staying positive. His sentiments echo those felt by every other farmer in the area.  He says, "just pray for rain." 

Thompson says thankfully, the state does have a good insurance program for pecans, but only some growers have insurance on their crop.