Drought continues to suppress Georgia agriculture, particularly in southwest Georgia, the hub of the state’s pecan production.

It could turn what was expected to be an “on” year into an “off” one for pecan growers.

Pecan trees are alternate-bearing, meaning they produce a full crop every other year. Most trees in Georgia are on the same cycle, and this was supposed to be an on year for pecan production, said Lenny Wells, pecan specialist with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, based in Tifton, Ga.

Last week, Wells tested water stress in trees in orchards in Dougherty County, the center of the state’s pecan industry. What he found surprised him. “Basically, the well-irrigated trees, right now, are more stressed than the dry-land trees were last year at this time. So, even with irrigation it is hard to keep up with water demand in the tree.”

According to a June 27 report from the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service, a third of the state’s pecan trees are in poor to very poor condition.