By Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaEarlier this year, Georgia appeared primed for a bumper pecan crop. But a soggy summer left the crop looking a little scabby and expectations dropped.Growers were betting on a large pecan crop (about 130 million pounds) in early spring, said Darrell Sparks, pecan horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. But several negative factors over the summer combined to hurt the crop that is still expected to be good.Fungus problemA fungal disease called scab hit the crop hard this summer. Scab, which thrives in moist conditions, first develops on the leaves and moves to the shucks that cover the pecan shell. It can turn the shucks black and prevent the nut inside from maturing properly, or not at all. It lowers pecan yields and quality if left untreated by growers. Georgia growers must spray their orchards with fungicides to control scab. Heavy and numerous summer rains prevented many growers from spraying enough to control scab. One pecan orchard in Dougherty County received 43 rains over this growing season, Sparks said.The heavy amount of rain Georgia’s pecan orchards had over this summer was similar to the amounts received in the summers of 1989 and 1991, he said. Both summers weren’t good for pecan growing.Scab wasn’t the only thing that hindered this year’s crop. It seems this year was just one of those years.Dropped Pecans literally dropped out of the trees.It’s natural for pecan trees to throw off developing fruits. This allows trees to concentrate on developing the remaining fruits into good quality pecans. Trees generally shed fruit about four times each year. But the June drop this year for the Desirable pecan variety, one of Georgia’s most popular varieties, was excessive, he said.“This kind of drop for Desirables only happens about once every nine years,” he said.Other pecan varieties include Schley, Stuart, Elliott and Sumner.SplitHeavy rains in early August hurt the crop in another way. Pecans were in a crucial stage of development. Rains forced too much moisture into the developing nuts and in some cases split them, causing them to fall undeveloped and useless from trees, he said. This excessive water split drop happens about once every seven years, he said.What’s left of the pecan crop is in fair to good condition, according to the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service.Harvest has started for early-maturing varieties and will continue through December. Nut quality is expected to be good, and Georgia growers will harvest an average crop, Sparks said, which is about 90 million pounds. Last year, Georgia produced only 45 million pounds.Dougherty County, with about 15,200 acres of pecan trees, is considered the hub of Georgia pecan production.“Most of the hulls are just now starting to open up,” said Lenny Wells, Dougherty County extension coordinator. “In another month we’ll be pretty hard into picking.”Worth about $75 million a year, Georgia produces about half of the total pecans grown in the United States.
Major League Soccer is shutting down because of the coronavirus, according to Inter Miami owner Jorge Mas.Mas says the target period for the hiatus is 30 days.He told players and coaches, then held a news conference and says, “We’ve made a decision as a league this morning, as owners, that play will be suspended temporarily.”The expansion team owned by Mas and former England captain David Beckham had been scheduled to play its home opener Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.___ “The health and welfare of the athletes and all other participants, as well as the general public are in the forefront and the priority of FIS and all stakeholders,” the governing body said Thursday.Kilde’s runner-up finish in what proved to be the season-ending race — a downhill last Saturday in Kvitfjell, Norway — lifted him to the overall title above French rival Alexis Pinturault.Pinturault also finished runner-up to Kristoffersen in giant slalom. Another Frenchman, Clement Noel, was runner-up to Kristoffersen for the season-long slalom title by only two points, 552-550.Kristoffersen had an outside chance of winning the overall title if the final two races had gone ahead.Kilde succeeds Austrian great Marcel Hirscher, who won eight straight overall titles before retiring in the offseason. 9:55 a.m.The season-ending men’s World Cup ski races were canceled Thursday to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, giving Norwegian skier Aleksander Aamodt Kilde his first overall title.Giant slalom and slalom races were scheduled for this weekend in Kranjska Gora, near Slovenia’s border with Italy.The cancellations mean Henrik Kristoffersen, another Norwegian, becomes the season champion in both disciplines by tiny margins.A four-race finals week in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, was canceled last week by the International Ski Federation. A person with direct knowledge of the discussions tells The Associated Press that a recommendation has been made to the International Ice Hockey Federation to cancel the men’s world championships in Switzerland.The recommendation will be taken up for a vote by IIHF members on Thursday, according to the person who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because a decision has not yet been reached. The recommendation comes days after the IIHF canceled the women’s worlds set to begin in late March in Nova Scotia.The person said U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement on Wednesday to ban travel from Europe led to the recommendation to cancel the world championships. The monthlong travel ban leads to uncertainty over whether NHL players, who traditionally make up many of the competing nations’ rosters, will be able to travel from North America.The 16-nation tournament is scheduled to open on May 8.In other hockey developments, the National Women’s Hockey League postponed its Isobel Cup final scheduled for Friday night in Boston. It did not provide a new date. South Korea’s professional baseball league says it will postpone the start of its season to mid-April because of the coronavirus outbreak.The Korea Baseball Organization says it still hopes to maintain a 144-game regular-season schedule but will consider banning spectators from some games when risks of infections are high.The KBO had already canceled its preseason.___10:55 a.m. The Wizards say players, coaches and basketball operations staff who have flu-like symptoms will be tested for coronavirus.___1:40 p.m.UEFA has called European soccer stakeholders to a meeting by video conference on Tuesday to deal with the effect on competitions of the coronavirus outbreak.UEFA says they will discuss “all domestic and European competitions.” That includes this year’s European Championship. 11:35 p.m.The Sun Belt became the latest Division I conference to announce it will restrict fan access to its basketball tournament games. The men’s and women’s semifinals and finals scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, home of the NBA’s Pelicans and site of the women’s Final Four in April, will be played with only essential staff, some media and limited immediate family members of players and coaches allowed in the arena.___11:30 a.m. The Belgian soccer league has backpedaled on its decision to keep stadiums open to fans despite the coronavirus outbreak.The league says that the last round of regular-season matches in the top league scheduled this weekend will be played in empty stadiums. The Belgian Cup final between Brugge and Antwerp scheduled on March 22 was postponed to a date yet to be announced.The Belgian federation added that all youth and amateur soccer have been canceled until March 31, and the Belgian national team’s trip to Qatar scheduled this month also has been canceled. Belgium, Portugal, Croatia and Switzerland had planned to play friendly games ahead of the European Championship at a mini tournament in the Gulf emirate.___11:15 a.m. 10:55 a.m.Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford says the league men’s basketball tournament is ready to hold games as scheduled Thursday without fans in Greensboro, North Carolina.Swofford held a news conference Thursday morning, a few hours before the first of four quarterfinal games. The league had announced Wednesday that it wouldn’t allow the general public into tournament games amid concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus that has become a global pandemic.Swofford called it “a very fluid situation” that “changes daily now, and may well be changing hourly.”Swofford said: “We want to provide an opportunity to continue to compete in this tournament for our players. Our understanding and belief is that that is what they would want.” 2:50 p.m.A second player from Italy’s top soccer division has tested positive for coronavirus.Sampdoria says 28-year-old forward Manolo Gabbiadini “has a fever but he’s doing well.” The Serie A club and adds that it is “activating all the isolation procedures provided for by law.”That is likely to include self-isolation for all players and staff.Gabbiadini, who also plays for Italy’s national team, wrote on Twitter “I too tested positive for Coronavirus. I want to thank all those who wrote to me, I’ve already received so very many messages. But I still want to reassure you that I’m fine, so don’t worry. Follow the rules, stay home and everything will sort itself out.” A person involved in the discussions over the new coronavirus says the policy is expected to be in place for the next several weeks, starting with The Players and extending to next week at the Valspar Championship in the Tampa Bay area. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because it has not been announced.The only time a PGA Tour event has kept fans off the course were safety issues related to weather.The Players began Thursday with fans. The only stipulation was they not ask for autographs. Still to be determined was who would be allowed in. The source said media and key personnel would be allowed.– Reporting by AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson___ 11:40 a.m.The Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament could be staged without spectators after a government decree related to the coronavirus outbreak.Indian sports minister Kiren Rijuju told all national sports federations to ban spectators at all events, but events can go on if they “can’t be avoided.”The decision impacts the hugely popular IPL, due to start on March 29 and last seven weeks.It’s not yet been determined how it will affect the one-day international series between India and South Africa which began on Thursday in Dharamsala. The second ODI is in Lucknow on Sunday, and the third ODI in Kolkata next Wednesday. Several college basketball conference tournaments have been canceled moments before tipoff, putting the NCAA Tournament at risk.The Big Ten, Big 12 and the SEC tournaments announced they were off, and other conferences were expected to follow suit.The men’s NCAA Tournament is one of the most popular events on the American sports calendar. March Madness draws hundreds of thousands of fans to arenas from coast to coast.___11:40 a.m. 2:25 p.m.The Pakistan Super League is closing Twenty20 cricket games in Karachi to spectators from Friday after advice from the Sindh provincial government.The Pakistan Cricket Board said “it was important for us to act quickly to ensure that the wellbeing of all concerned is better protected” from the coronavirus outbreak but the Karachi Kings’ home game on Thursday against Lahore Qalanders went ahead with spectators.Spectators are barred from league games on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and a playoff on Tuesday.One other league match and three playoff matches, including the final on March 22, are in Lahore. The board said it was in contact with the Punjab provincial government about any health advice for the Lahore matches. On Wednesday, Juventus announced that defender Daniele Rugani had tested positive.The outbreak of the virus has led to a nationwide lockdown in Italy, where soccer and all other sports have been suspended until April 3.___2:45 p.m.The ATP has suspended all men’s professional tennis tournaments for six weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak. No ATP Tour or ATP Challenger Tour events will take place through the week of April 20.The tournament at Indian Wells, California, scheduled to begin main-draw play Wednesday already had been called off.The affected events are the Miami Open, the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston, the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech, the Monte Carlo Masters, the Barcelona Open and the Hungarian Open.The next Grand Slam tournament, the French Open, is still scheduled to be held in Paris beginning May 24.___ 2:30 p.m.Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers says “a few” of his players have symptoms of coronavirus and are being kept away from the squad.Rodgers was speaking two days before Leicester plays Watford in the Premier League. He didn’t say whether there had been any positive tests for the virus.Only one Premier League game has been affected so far amid the outbreak, with Manchester City’s home match against Arsenal on Wednesday called off. That decision was taken after members of Arsenal’s playing squad went into self-isolation in a precautionary move.___ Swofford’s comments came at the start of the third day of the five-day event, after fans had attended six games at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina.Thursday’s games includes No. 4 Florida State, No. 10 Duke, No. 15 Louisville and No. 17 Virginia. The games will be held with only essential personnel, teams, player guests and credentialed media in attendance.Swofford said he spoke with the commissioners of the other Power Five conferences, all of which are set to play basketball games today with few fans in the arenas.The NCAA announced Wednesday it planned to conduct its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments next week with only essential staff and some family members of teams in the building.___ 10:25 a.m.The hockey-like game of bandy has postponed its world championships in Russia because of the spreading coronavirus.The Swedish Bandy Association says the tournament, scheduled to be played from March 29-April 5 in Irkutsk, has been postponed until October.International Bandy Association president Boris Skrynnik says “we know that there are concerns in other countries when it comes to travel and spending time with larger groups.”The under-15 world championships in Arkhangelsk, Russia, at the end of the month will also be played at a later date. Associated Press The International Basketball Federation says it is suspending all competitions indefinitely from Friday.FIBA says the decision was made “in order to protect the health and safety of players, coaches, officials and fans.”The suspension includes games in the Basketball Champions League, which is a rival competition to the better known Euroleague, and the second-tier FIBA Europe Cup. The Champions League is part-way through its playoffs.Men’s qualification for the Tokyo Olympics is expected to resume in June with a series of qualifying tournaments overseen by FIBA. Women’s qualifying has already concluded.___ And the NHL announced the cancellation of morning skates and practices.– Reporting by AP Hockey Writers John Wawrow and Stephen Whyno___11:05 a.m.The Players Championship will not have spectators for the final three days at the TPC Sawgrass in Florida. The meetings will involve UEFA member federations and representatives of clubs, national leagues and player unions.There is no blanket suspension of soccer across the continent, but national leagues have been shut down by public authorities in some countries, including Italy and Spain.___NoonThe International Fencing Federation has postponed all international events for the next five weeks, including four Olympic qualifying tournaments. The FIE made the decision after the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic, and the U.S. banned travelers from 26 European countries starting on Friday.The events postponed included the Africa, Asia, Europe and Americas qualifiers next month. Also off is the Anaheim Grand Prix in California starting on Friday, and the junior world championships in Salt Lake City next month.Four World Cups in saber and epee next week were also called off.“Full details regarding the rescheduling of competitions will be announced at a later date,” the FIE said. “Information regarding Olympic selection criteria will be made as schedules for the remainder of the season are finalized.”___ Juventus announced late Wednesday that defender Daniele Rugani and “those who have had contact with him” are being isolated. It also said Rugani is not showing any symptoms of the disease.Rugani sent a post on Twitter overnight in Italian.“You’ll have read the news and that’s why I want to reassure everyone who is worrying about me. I’m OK. I want to remind everyone to respect the rules, because this virus doesn’t make distinctions! Let’s do it four ourselves, for those dear to us and for those around us,” he wrote.Rugani is the first player in the country’s top soccer division to test positive for the virus.___ March 12, 2020 ___2:20 p.m.The Miami Open tennis tournament that was scheduled to start later this month has been canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak.The tournament had been scheduled for March 23-April 5 in Miami Gardens. The tournament moved there last year from its former home on Key Biscayne.Virtually all of the world’s top players had been scheduled to participate except Roger Federer, who is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Real Madrid says its soccer and basketball teams have been put in quarantine after a basketball play for the club tested positive for the coronavirus.The Spanish club says the soccer team was also affected because it shares training facilities with the basketball team.___11:05 a.m.German broadcaster Sky says it will show some Bundesliga soccer games on a free channel after spectators were barred from the stadiums. Foreign players are expected to face difficulties in traveling to India as the government on Wednesday suspended all visas, barring categories such as diplomatic and employment-related, until April 15 in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.Unless the government makes an exception, foreign cricketers will not be given business visas with which they travel to play the IPL.___11:30 a.m.McLaren says it has withdrawn from the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne after a team member tested positive for the coronavirus. ___10:15 a.m.Denmark’s top soccer leagues are shutting down for at least two weeks because of the spreading coronavirus.The Danish league made the move a day after the national government announced a lockdown. The small Scandinavian country has 514 cases of people testing positive.“We will look at exactly what this will mean for the running of the tournaments for the weeks to come,” said Danish league director Claus Thomsen, adding more information on what will happen with the postponed matches and the rest of the season will be announced later. ___10:10 a.m.The Swiss hockey league has ended the season in the top two divisions before the playoffs because of the spreading coronavirus.The league’s decision comes less than two months before Switzerland is due to host the world championships in Zurich and Lausanne.The league says decisions on awarding titles, and promotion and relegation places, will be decided at a special meeting on Friday. It’s the second postponement of a top tennis tournament in five days. The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, was postponed Sunday, less than 24 hours before qualifying matches were scheduled to begin.___2:15 p.m.The Toronto Raptors say they will go into self-quarantine because they recently played against the Utah Jazz and Rudy Gobert.Gobert has tested positive for coronavirus. The British-based team says the person was self-isolated as soon as they started to show symptoms and “will now enter a period of quarantine.”Team officials have taken the decision to pull out of Sunday’s race “based on a duty of care” for McLaren employees and the wider Formula One family.Qualifying was scheduled to start Friday.___11:15 a.m. ___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports “Euroleague and the participating clubs cannot ask from players to put their health and that of their families at risk,” the Euroleague Players Association said.The players’ union asked for the season to be suspended “until health, safety and freedom of movement can be guaranteed.”___10 a.m.The Juventus player who tested positive for the coronavirus says he’s “OK” and wants “to reassure everyone who is worrying about me.” The Swiss soccer leagues have been suspended through March, and Basel is unable to host a Europa League game next week against Eintracht Frankfurt.___10:05 a.m.After the NBA suspended its season, the Euroleague is considering doing the same.The league says it is consulting with clubs about a suspension, something which its players are demanding. The Latest: Big Ten, Big 12, SEC cancel hoops tournaments The Euroleague says it is suspending all games indefinitely because of the coronavirus outbreak.Europe’s main club basketball competition says it made the decision because of “the increased risks for participants in games, the vast amount of traveling disruptions causing the impossibility to reach certain destinations, and the different recommendations by the health authorities.”The league was scheduled to hold regular-season games in Moscow, Istanbul, Madrid and Tel Aviv on Thursday.___10:30 a.m. Sky will show four league games simultaneously on Saturday on its non-subscription news channel in a “conference” format, with the broadcast switching between each game to show the key action.That includes Borussia Dortmund’s game against Schalke, which is one of Germany’s most heated rivalries.There will be a similar procedure for some second-division games.___11 a.m. Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditLONDON (AP) — The Latest on the coronavirus outbreak’s affect on sports around the globe (all times local):___11:55 a.m. “Out of an abundance of caution, members of the Raptors traveling party have been tested for the virus. We await those results. Our players, coaches and traveling staff have all been advised to go into self-isolation for 14 days, which means minimizing contact in accordance with public health guidelines. Our team doctors remain in communication with infection control specialists and public health authorities, and we will continue to abide by their advice,” the Raptors said.___2:05 p.m.The Washington Wizards say players, coaches and basketball operations personnel are going to self-quarantine for the next three to four days.The Wizards played at the Utah Jazz — who have a player, Rudy Gobert, that tested positive for COVID-19 — on Feb. 29. Washington also played Tuesday against the New York Knicks, another recent opponent of the Jazz.