Recent Rains Could Lead to Spike in Pecan Scab Disease

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Pecan scab disease has been light this year but could change with the recent rains.

By Clint Thompson

Scab disease of pecans has been light so far this year. But could soon change with the recent rain events in the Southeast, says Lenny Wells, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension pecan specialist.

“Scab so far has been light, but we’ve had some pretty scabby weather the last week or so. We’ll see, but I think everybody has been staying on top of it pretty well,” Wells said.

The rainy weather as a result of Tropical Storm Cristobal this week could be a big reason scab disease incidences begin to spike. Wells said it usually takes a couple of weeks before growers start seeing scab as a result of excess rainfall.

“If people were set to spray this week and it’s been raining like it is and they can’t get out there to spray everything like they need to because of the weather, then there may be some that get caught. (But) things are looking pretty good, and everybody’s staying on a good schedule,” Wells said.

What Is Scab?

Scab is a fungal disease that infects the leaves or nuts of pecan trees. If it hits the nut early enough, scab can cause the pecan to blacken and fall from the tree. Some growers spray between 10 and 12 times during an average year to fight scab, Wells said. Scab thrives on trees that have received moisture. That is why a quick rain event is important and not prolonged rainy weather of several days in a row.

One reason Wells is optimistic this year is the new fungicide that is now in growers’ arsenal.

“We’ve got a new fungicide we’ve got in the mix this year that I think is going to be a big help. A part of it is a chemistry that has two different classes of chemistry in it, and part of it is something we haven’t had before in pecans or been used before. Based on Tim Brenneman’s work it looks like it’ll be a big help for us,” Wells said.

For other pecan-related stories, see pecan crop offers hope.