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Consumers to shell out more money for pecans

High demand from China coupled with a lack of production has driven prices up, officials say.

Charles Johnson drops freshly harvested pecans into a bucket while collecting them from under a pecan tree. The average retail price for a pound of pecans has climbed from $7 in 2008 to about $11 this year.

Charles Johnson drops freshly harvested pecans into a bucket while collecting them from under a pecan tree. The average retail price for a pound of pecans has climbed from $7 in 2008 to about $11 this year.

ALBANY, Ga. — Consumers who like a tasty pecan pie to round out their Thanksgiving feast will have to shell out more dough this year, thanks to higher demand and a supply that can’t keep up, agriculture officials say.

James Morgan, the director of the University of Georgia’s Extension Service’s Dougherty County office, said that China’s increasing appetite for the nut has come at a time when supply is at its lowest, driving prices up to better than $3 per pound to growers.

“Pecans are doing very well, based on demand prices, and so are our other row crops,” Morgan said. “China has gotten into the pecan business. They really like our nuts and so they’re demanding more nuts, and places like Texas and Louisiana weren’t able to produce many pecans because of the drought conditions out there.”

That means prices have jumped by more than a dollar from last year, which is good for those in the pecan business but painful for the consumers who, this time of year, depend on the brown, oblong nut for pie recipes.

According to the National Pecan Sheller’s Association, Metro Albany has more pecan trees than any other metro area in the country, with more than 600,000 of the nut-producing trees planted in and around the Good-Life-City.

The name “pecan” is an Algonquin word meaning “a tough nut to crack.” Pecans have their roots in America’s culinary history dating back to the 16th century and have more than 1,000 different varieties.

According to the most recent data available — the 2010 Georgia Farm Gate value report — pecans generated more than $35.2 million in revenue for Dougherty County farmers last year when prices were $2.14 per pound.

They were the single largest agriculture commodity in terms of revenue generation last year in Dougherty County, followed by cotton, corn, peanuts and other row crops.

In total, Dougherty County farmers generated $62.6 million in revenues last year.

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Official: China's love for nuts driving up pecan prices

China's growing demand for pecans coupled with a small U.S. crop, is driving up prices, Dougherty County Extension Service Agent James Morgan says.