Summertime drought hurt Georgia’s pecan crop, and now harvest is behind schedule. But there is one big bright spot: Pecan prices are currently the highest they have ever been, according to a University of Georgia pecan specialist.

“I’m hesitant to use the word ‘outlandish’ to describe the prices, but they are certainly the highest in history,” said Lenny Wells, a pecan horticulturist with UGA Cooperative Extension.

Prices for most varieties are $1 to $1.50 per pound higher than normal for a crop like this year’s.

“The Stuart variety accounts for roughly half of Georgia’s crop. Stuarts sell now for $2.30 per pound. Such a nut would typically sell for only $1 to $1.25 per pound, Wells said.

Pecan trees are alternate bearing, meaning they produce a heavy crop only every other year. This year is an “off” year. It was on its way to being a very good off year, though, he said.

In the summer, the crop was expected to reach 80 million pounds, twice the production of the state’s worst off year.

“We were thinking a few months ago it would be the best off year in years,” Wells said. “But the drought in August and September, a critical time for water need, reduced the crop significantly, leaving us with fewer nuts and lower quality.”

In many locations, the Stuart variety is refusing to release from the shuck in trees, something likely caused by the dry conditions, he said, but the reason is still a bit of a mystery. A cold winter matched with a cool spring has pushed overall harvest behind by at least three weeks.