File photo -- Unfavorable weather has reduced projections for Louisiana's 2017 pecan harvest, the LSU AgCenter pecan specialist says.

Unfavorable weather has reduced projections for Louisiana's 2017 pecan harvest, the LSU AgCenter pecan specialist says.

“It’s not nearly as good as what we thought it was going to be,” said Charlie Graham, who is based at the LSU AgCenter Red River Research Station in Bossier City.

Projected at 15 million pounds, this year's crop has probably been reduced by 3 to 4 million pounds as a result of several factors, a news release says.

Some losses occurred from heavy rains washing away the initial crop, Graham said.

The biggest problems were caused by cloudy, rainy weather in August, which resulted in shucks dying and splitting open, a condition called shuck decline. Some varieties suffered heavy losses due to water split.

“Affected nuts have usually initiated shell hardening, so they have lost some elasticity but haven’t hardened enough to withstand the increased pressure,” Graham said. “The sudden influx of water following a rainfall event increases the internal water pressure until it ruptures.”

The nuts were OK if they were further along in maturity when the rains came or if they were later in development, he said.

Graham said he lost half of some varieties, such as Caddo, Oconee and Schley.

The disease neofusicoccum was a problem in Pointe Coupee Parish, causing trees to defoliate, and the effects on the 2018 crop are uncertain, the release says.

“I’ve talked to several growers who had that problem,” Graham said. “It is becoming a common problem in pecan orchards not utilizing a fungicide spray program.”

Pecan prices are good this year.

“Prices have been very, very strong, and we can expect them to stay strong,” he said.

Graham said he’s not heard of any major problems from walnut caterpillars in north Louisiana.

LSU AgCenter agent Keith Hawkins in Beauregard Parish said he’s gotten numerous complaints from backyard growers with walnut caterpillars causing defoliation problems. And he said his own tree was damaged by the insect.

“It wasn’t just me. There also were trees affected in Calcasieu and Vernon parishes. I’ve gotten lots of complaints over several weeks,” Hawkins said.

He said he’s also heard of problems with the insect in Rapides Parish.

The LSU AgCenter provided information for this report.