A good, but not great, pecan growing season has harvesters busy shaking the trees and collecting the nuts for selling.
Georgia, the leading pecan-producing state in the nation, is expected to produce about 85 million pounds of pecans this season.
Although that number falls short of a full crop of 120 million to 130 million pounds, the trees bounced back from last year’s paltry production of 75 million pounds, said Duke Lane, the president of the Georgia Pecan Growers Association.
“It hasn’t been a limb-breaking crop but it’s been a good crop,” Lane said. “Considering the hot, dry weather back in May, it might have been a better crop.”
The harvesting season, which should conclude as early as Thursday, has also treated farmers nicely. Low rainfall helped growers get outside and collect nuts without the extra step of drying them.
“Everyone’s going round the clock harvesting them,” said Lane, who owns 2,600 acres of pecan orchards near Fort Valley in middle Georgia and five counties.
Harvesters were 80 percent finished with collecting pecans last week, a process that sometimes takes them into January, Lane said.
Heath Thompson, the pecan manager for Mossy Creek Plantation near Waynesboro, Ga., said his trees produced a medium-range yield. The crop came around later than he’d like but the nuts are a high quality.
In-shell pecans were selling for as much as $3 per pound earlier in the season, but the price has dropped considerably, Thompson said. The average price runs between $1 and $1.50 per pound now.
Another concern for pecan growers are thieves who are sneaking onto their property and running off with pecans for resale.
“They’re out there with buckets and sacks. They’re not out there with two or three to eat,” Lane said.
Farmers have a similar problem with other crops, especially ones that grow close to roadsides and are easily accessible. But, pecan thievery is higher than normal and forcing growers to take a closer look at stopping the problem, Lane said.
“You don’t go in a hardware store and get yourself a hammer and nails. It’s basically the same thing. It’s stealing,” he said.