US (GA): Rain contributes to good pecan crop

Good rainfall during the growing season has resulted in anticipated Georgia pecan production that's above initial projections. Growers are hoping that production in future years finds receptive markets abroad.

What was expected to be an off-year for pecans in Georgia has turned out to be very good in terms of production, according to Duke Lane, Jr., chairman of the Georgia Pecan Commission. Plenty of water has eliminated the need for as much irrigation as was initially anticipated, and that's meant more production from more growers.

“Some small growers don't use irrigation, so they don't grow as much when there's not much rain,” said Lane. “But we've had rain this year.” Early estimates of this year's production were between 70 million and 80 million pounds, but production could reach up to 100 million pounds, or even approach last year's record haul of 120 million pounds, according to Lane.

“We've been very fortunate to have had plenty of rain this year,” he said. That has not only meant higher production, but also better quality of nuts. That higher quality has translated into good prices.

“Rain really plays a key part in determining quality,” said Lane. “The heavier the nut, the more we're going to get for it.”

For now, good demand has welcomed this year's production, but Lane believes that export markets can be expanded going forward. With other nuts finding good traction in Asia, he believes the pecan industry can also make good inroads abroad.

“Right now, China is a main player in buying pecans, and we're told that less than five percent of the Chinese population is aware of pecans, so there's a lot of room for growth,” said Lane. But for now, he appreciates how well the year has been so far.

“We've been fortunate that we've had some storms come through the region and haven't lost many nuts, and we've been fortunate that we've had rain during the right times,” he said. “So things are good.”

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