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Dec 5, 2010 5:12 PM by Andrea Babin

Foreign Demand Aids Pecan Farms

NEW ROADS, La. (AP) - Two years after Hurricane Gustav destroyed
large swaths of Louisiana pecan orchards, farmers have some good
news with the price of the nut doubling because of increased
foreign demand.
Traditionally, pecan farmers could expect to get $1 and change
for a pound of pecans, said Randy Sanderlin, coordinator of the LSU
AgCenter Pecan Research and Extension Station in Shreveport.
The Advocate reports that this year, pecan farmers can bank on
getting about $2 a pound while the nuts are harvested throughout
the fall and winter.
Sanderlin suggests the price increase can be traced to an
explosion in foreign demand in Asian markets.
Specifically, the appetite for pecans in China and Hong Kong has
increased almost 10-fold since 2006, Sanderlin said.
U.S. pecan farmers exported about 9.2 million pounds of in-shell
pecans to China and Hong Kong in 2006, he said.
In 2009, that number rose to 88.6 million pounds, or about
one-third of the total 292 million pounds of pecans produced in the
U.S., he said.
The United States Department of Agriculture estimates this
year's pecan yield will top out around 270 million pounds, with 8
million pounds coming from Louisiana.
The increased demand could be a boon to local pecan farmers like
Andre Bergeron, owner of H.J. Bergeron Pecan Shelling Co. in New
Roads.
When Hurricane Gustav tore through the area in 2008, the
southern part of the state was hit particularly hard, he said.
LSU plant pathologists estimate that storm winds significantly
damaged about 65 percent of pecan trees in southern Louisiana.
Bergeron, who owns about 1,200 trees on 400 acres, said he lost
about 30 percent of his trees to Gustav.
The trees left standing after the storm have fared relatively
well, he said, producing quality pecans even while under stress in
this years hot, dry summer.
"The southern part of the state, from Alexandria south should
have a good year," he said. "And we need a good year."

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