The US produces 80% of the world’s pecans. But the pecan pick this year is expected to be 14% smaller compared to last, according to the USDA.
Drought has effectively diminished the pecan harvest from the biggest US pecan-picking producing states: Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
Production may be diminishing, but prices are on the rise. According to Jeff Worn, vice president of South Georgia Pecan Co – annual producers of 40-50 million pounds pecans out of Valdosta, GA – retail prices of pecans rose from $7 in 2008, to $9 in 2010 and are anticipated to round out at $11 per pound this year.
It’s not just the US that suffers when pecan prices rise. China now purchases about 20% of the US pecan production. Pecans are particularly valued during the two-week Chinese New Year festival in January-February.
On top of being economically valuable right now, pecans also pack quite a nutritional profile: one ounce of pecans (about 15 pieces) contains 200 calories, 3 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. Like all plant based oils, they are also a good source of vitamin E.
But watch your portion sizes – those 15 pieces do yield 20 grams of fat. Look for unsalted varieties and consider adding pecans to your salads and casseroles, or just incorporating as a satiating – but expensive – snack.