After Hurricane Michael pummeled parts of Georgia last fall, another state has taken the lead on pecan production in the United States.
The numbers come on a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which showed Georgia producing only half of the expected 107 million pounds. The storm blasted the Florida panhandle before moving into Georgia with winds at 125 mph. According to the National Weather Service, Hurricane Michael was the first Category 3 storm to hit Georgia since the 1890s.
Lenny Wells, associate professor of Horticulture with a focus on pecans at the University of Georgia, said 17 percent of the state’s pecan acreage was lost to the storm.
Georgia lost about $100 million in pecan crops, $260 million in trees, and up to $200 million in future income, Wells said.
In 2017, New Mexico produced about 90 million pounds of pecans with Texas and Arizona coming in third and fourth place, respectively.
Governor Brian Kemp has called on Congress to act and offer relief to Georgia farmers who have been unable to rebuild their farming operations since Hurricane Michael. Just last week, Kemp released the following statement:
“Georgia farmers, who suffered generational losses during Hurricane Michael, are on the verge of bankruptcy,” said Governor Kemp. “Yet a handful of vindictive politicians refuse to end the gridlock and provide the resources these hardworking Americans so desperately need.
“This gridlock exposes the rotten core of some in Congress. They would rather crush an entire industry – destroying the livelihood of countless Americans – than do something that the opposition party wants. This dire situation highlights the brokenness in Washington. We have reached a low point as a nation.
“We refuse to excuse the political games that exploit our farmers and discount the dire situation in Southwest Georgia. We will not settle for gridlock that compromises the future of so many hardworking Georgians. This is not an empty threat from a red state governor. This is a promise – we will not stand down until Congress stands up for our farmers.”
Agriculture is Georgia’s largest industry, employing one in seven Georgians and contributing $74 billion to the state’s economy annually. Hurricane Michael left $2.5 billion in damage to Georgia crops alone.