Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Severe drought impacts pecan production

    For the past 4 months, I have watched clouds pass over SE Kansas without dropping significant rainfall. According to the National Weather Service, my farm in Cherokee County (extreme SE corner of Kansas) is experiencing an Exceptional Drought (figure above). I've lived through several Kansas droughts but this year is most memorable because of its extended duration. Extreme drought, although uncommon in SE Kansas has occurred several times in the past 100 years. The Dust Bowl of the 1930's is probably the most historically significant drought to impact Kansas agriculture. However, other exceptionally dry periods occurred  during the 1950's and as recent as 2012-2013.

   The dry weather has definitely illustrated why pecan trees prefer growing in the deep soils found in river flood plains. These soils have a large sub-surface reservoir of water that can move up through the soil profile to keep pecan trees green and growing. However, this year's limited water supply has impacted the 2022 nut crop. Nut size and kernel fill will both be reduced. Many trees aborted a portion of their nut crop in mid-summer due to drought. I have also noted that shuck-split is delayed compared to normal years. 

    Now that the days are getting shorter, I should have more time to post on this blog. As you might expect, the drought of 2022 will color my observations for the remainder of this crop year.