A pecan blog is helping University of Georgia Cooperative Extension horticulture specialist Lenny Wells reach growers in Georgia and across the world.
Started in April 2014, UGA’s pecan blog addresses all issues concerning pecan production, including irrigation scheduling, common insect pests and scab disease. Wells, UGA Extension’s pecan specialist, says the blog was necessary due to Georgia farmers’ interest in pecan production.
Once Wells began updating his blog regularly, enthusiasm for pecan production information grew. Over a 30-day period, Wells estimates the blog receives between 5,000 and 6,000 hits, or views. The blog also draws interest from readers in several South American countries, Australia, South Africa and India.
The blog format makes sharing information easy and allows Wells to distribute information on specific topics at specific times throughout the season.
“At different times of the year, you seem to have certain topics that everybody’s dealing with, and I’ll get a lot of calls on that one issue,” Wells said. “I thought the blog would be a good way to go ahead and get information out there, especially to the Extension agents. At a specific time each year, you can expect to see 'this,' 'this' is what’s going on and 'this' is what you need to do for it.”
During the summer, one of Wells’ most popular posts covered is the water needs for pecans. Given the dry conditions Georgia has experienced since May, irrigation scheduling is essential to producing a desirable crop in the fall.
“We’re getting into the time (of year) when water demand starts to increase. Growers want to know how much water to apply to get the nut size they want,” Wells said.
Normally, insect problems and scab disease are relevant pecan-growing topics during the summer months. Fortunately for pecan growers, the drier temperatures and lack of rain in south Georgia in May and the first part of June has caused scab disease to taper off as compared to 2014.
“It’s not as bad as we’ve seen the last two years. It started out looking like it was going to be because April was pretty wet, and we did start out seeing a fair amount of leaf scab out there. But it turned dry in May, and I think that has saved us,” Wells said. “So far, I haven’t seen any pecan scab to speak of. The crop looks to be in pretty good shape.”
When the marketing season arrives, Wells will use the blog to provide growers information on where to go to find the price of pecans and to keep producers updated on the latest news in the industry nationwide.
“I will try to update the blog at least once a week. At certain times of the year, I may update it two or three times a week. Then, in the offseason, I may do it a couple of times a month. It just depends on what’s going on,” Wells said. “During the growing season, I try to keep up with what’s going on with the crops and get information out there so people will know what to look for and what they need to be doing.”
To access Wells’ pecan blog, go to blog.extension.uga.edu/pecan.
(Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.)