Will the record early snow affect pecans in the Mesilla Valley?

Will the record early snow affect pecans in the Mesilla Valley?

Pecan pie lovers can breathe a sigh of relief as local pecan trees dodged a bullet with the recent snow in the Mesilla Valley.  On October 27th residents woke to an inch of snow and by the day’s end some areas had up to three inches.  According to the weather service it was the earliest the area had ever received snow and the temperatures got down to around 27 degrees in some areas of the valley that evening. 

“We were lucky, it could have been much worse,” says Robert Jimerson, manager of McCilli Farms and owner of J5 Harvesting.  “Because the trees were in full canopy with green leaves, if it had turned into ice we would have lost a lot of trees because the limbs get too heavy and break.” Jimerson said last year’s cold snap when valley got down to 16 degrees on October 31st was much more damaging, “We lost 300-400 2 and 3 year old trees because the temps just dropped too fast.”

Greg Daviet, manager of Dixie Ranch pecan farm, agreed that this cold spell was not as damaging as last year’s arctic blast.  “Fortunately the snow accumulation was not enough to damage the structure of the tree,” said Daviet.  “We are on track to harvest with a couple more good freezes, allowing the leaves to turn yellow as the tree reaches senescence.” Senescence is what gives trees their autumn color as leaves turn and nutrients are sent back to the tree.

Photo courtesy of Robert Jimerson