Farmers Begin Pecan Harvest

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Updated: Tue, 08 Oct 2013 09:21:07 EST

Just in time for those Fall pralines and traditional Thanksgiving pecan pies, pecan trees are being harvested by farmers across Georgia. Throughout the nice Georgia breezes, Georgia pecans have held steady, but with a little shake they fall like this summer's rain.

Thomas Mason, owner of Mason Pecans in Fort Valley, started the shaking process Tuesday afternoon, the first day of his crop harvest. Mason ended a career in construction and entered the pecan business 12 years ago and his timing could not be any better.

"With the country being in the health mode that it's in, pecans have done really well," said Mason. "Than with China jumping in and buying it just turned out to be a good decision."

Mason owns more than 12-hundred acres of pecan trees across Peach and Macon counties. He expects his healthy nuts to produce a healthy harvest, anticipating somewhere around two and a half to three million pounds this year along. Pecans are the healthiest tree nut, low in cholesterol and high in antioxidants and demand.

"It's a good time to be in the pecan business," said Gary W. Black, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture.

Black says Georgia is the number one producer of pecans in the country. There's currently a three year wait on orders of pecan trees from nurseries at a time where countries such as China can't wait to get their hands on the crop.

"The international marketplace sees this is an interesting product," said Black. "They're beginning to learn more about it, learn that this is something that competes really nice and is something that exceeds the quality of some of our other tree nuts."

Like many other crops, this summer's heavy rain has brought its concerns. Mason says he sprayed 3 times more than usual to fight off insects, mites, and viruses due to the increased moisture. He says the aggressive treatment has paid off.

"The quality appears to be up, the nuts are weighing out real heavy, it's taking less nuts to make a pound and that means that the meats filled out better and the taste is as good as ever," said Mason.

In 2012, Georgia led the nation in pecan production of all varieties reaching 100 million pounds, nearly doubling its nearest competitor, New Mexico which produced 65 million pounds.

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