Southern drought takes toll on this year's pecan crop

12/16/2013 12:40:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

pecan pieCourtesy University of MarylandBe prepared for sticker shock if you traditionally buy or bake pecan pies for the holidays.

One Maryland store had them listed at more than $30 for a 12-inch pie, according to a news release.

For those who feel comfortable in the kitchen, you can bake your own for about $15.

Blame last year's drought in the South for this year's short crop and the higher prices, says Sara BhaduriHauck, a faculty Extension assistant with the University of Maryland in Harford County.

Although the higher prices may challenge holiday shoppers, it increased the per-pound profits for pecan growers, many of whom were hit hard by the drought, she says.

The dry weather took a toll on this year's crop, since because fruiting buds develop a year prior to the actual crop.

Pecans also are alternate bearing, having a heavy crop one year and a much lighter crop the following year.

This year, yields in Texas were down 43 percent and in Louisiana, down 55 percent, compared to last year.

Altogether, the South is responsible for 80 percent to 95 percent of the world's pecan supply.

In addition, demand from Asia has grown steadily over the past few years, jumping almost 00 percent between 2000 and 2009.

Chinese consumers particularly like pecans during their new year, which coincides with American winter holidays.

Chinese also like their pecans roasted in the shell, rather than shelled like most American consumers. As a result, Chinese buyers typically purchase nuts directly from the farmers so many pecans never make it to a U.S. sheller.



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