Pecan prices should remain stable at around $6 a pound through the holiday season.
Prices will average around $6 a pound this year, said Wojciech Florkowski, an economist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
"Anything at $5 would be a good buy," he said. "But it all depends on the grade you want."
Most retail stores sell mixed bags of halves and large pieces between $5.50 and $6 per pound.
"The prices at wholesale are running between $3 and $3.50 per pound, depending on the grade," Florkowski said. "These are very strong prices."
Depending on supply and demand, prices could be lower locally in Georgia.
But because of the demand for specialty uses of pecans, Florkowski doesn't expect the prices of other nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, to affect pecan prices.
Will the current downturn in the economy influence pecan prices?
He doubts it.
"It shouldn't affect pecan sales," he said. "Pecans are such a specialty item and purchased in such quantities that the household budget will permit these items."
But he did say that consumers "are rather unpredictable right now."
Pecan producers are shaking down a large crop for buyers.
The U.S. supply depends on three factors: the current crop, carry-over inventory in storage and imports from Mexico, he said.
Georgia's 2001 pecan production is forecast at 105 million pounds, up 31 percent from last year, according to the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service.
Because of their makeup, pecan trees generally have large yields every other year. This expected alternate-bearing cycle combined this season with good growing conditions to yield a larger crop size.
The expected U.S. 2001 pecan production is 355 million pounds, up 69 percent from last year but 13 percent below the record high crop in 1999.
Inventory levels are down from last year, he said. Part of this year's large crop will go to rebuild the inventory, but a large volume will be sent to market.
However, import levels from Mexico will be down this year. Since the 1990s, pecans from Mexico have been on the rise. They have contributed as much as 10 percent to the total U.S. supply.
But this year, a stronger Mexican economy will increase demand for the crop in Mexico, he said. That will cut into the Mexican supply of pecans to the United States.
(Brad Haire is the former news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)