This is the season when consumers go nuts for pecans, a popular ingredient in fruit cakes, pies and candies with sweet Southern names like divinity and pralines. Georgia remains the largest producer, with the heaviest concentration of trees in three southwestern counties, Dougherty, Mitchell and Lee.
Growers report record prices and excellent quality this year, but there's a hitch -- they have substantially fewer nuts to sell. For this reason, they aren't expecting 2006 to go down as a banner year.
In early estimates, Georgia was expected to produce about 45 million pounds, but Lenny Wells, a pecan specialist with the University of Georgia Extension Service, believes it'll be more like 40 million, 19 million less than the state's five-year average.
Wells says prices normally peak at the start of the harvest season in October as buyers rush to supply the demand for pecans to fill holiday gift packs, but by now they've fallen considerably.