Places like Dougherty County, Lee County and Mitchell County, the top three pecan-producing counties in the state, were hit especially hard by the scab disease, added Wells.

Poor pecan production isn’t the only disappointing reality facing pecan growers. Prices for small growers could hover around $1 per pound due to the weak domestic market, which generally uses nuts of smaller size than the export market.

Larger commercial producers, on the other hand, could get a premium price of $2.75 to $3 for their best nuts. Wells believes those prices could increase later in the pecan season if predictions of low volume hold true.

“It’s going to be interesting to see this year because the volume of the crop nationwide is not there like it has been,” Wells said.

“I kind of suspect as harvest progresses and we really see how short this crop is, this may be one of those years we see the price increase late in the year.”

What do these prices mean for the average consumer?

“I don’t think prices for the consumer will be affected so much this year because there is some supply on the shelves from last season, but supply and demand is a large part of pricing for any product. With a short pecan crop, in-store prices may go up at some point in the future,” Wells said.

Pecan prices will also hinge on exports to countries like China, where demand for pecans is high.

“A lot of the Chinese demand for pecans is based on the Chinese New Year. They like to eat them around that time, just like we like to eat them around Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Chinese New Year date changes from one year to the next,” Wells said. “This year it’s a little earlier, so we’ve got to get those nuts over there earlier this year. We may have a smaller window for getting them there.”

The Chinese New Year is Jan. 31, 2014.

According to the UGA 2011 Georgia Farm Gate Value Report, pecans were a top-10 commodity in the state, generating $319 million in farm gate value.

For more information about Georgia pecans, see the website, pecan.

 

          More from Southeast Farm Press

Georgia cotton growers shifting variety selections

Treat stored corn like you would cash in the bank

Agricultural returns cyclical in nature

Quick tips on Southeast cool-season forages