MACON, Ga. (AP) Pecan farmers in Middle Georgia are optimistic about this year's pecan crop.
``Overall, this is probably one of the best crops in the last three or four years,'' said Duke Lane Jr., president of Lane Southern Orchards in Fort Valley.
Lane has about 2,700 acres of pecan trees, some of which were planted by his father and grandfather.
``The stars really lined up this year,'' Lane said.
About 110 million to 120 million pounds of pecans will be harvested in Georgia this season, according to estimates by Lenny Wells, a pecan specialist at the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. If that prediction holds, it will be Georgia's best pecan crop in the past three years, Wells said.
Georgia is ranked No. 1 in the nation for pecan production, with more than 145,000 acres of pecans grown in 2013, The Telegraph reported (http://bit.ly/1GP0rFL). That accounted for more than $315.5 million in net value, according to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development.
This year, Mother Nature is cooperating, pecan producers say.
``We had too much rain about three years ago, and then last year we had a little less rain, but we were cloudy,'' Lane told the Macon newspaper. ``We are beginning to realize more and more just how important it is to have so many days of good hot sunshine to help the maturity of the nut and help it develop to its fullest.''
Harvesting of the early varieties of pecans began in October, and the entire process of harvesting can stretch into the early part of 2016.
By Nov. 1, ``everything that has nuts are ready,'' said Al Pearson of Pearson Farms, who grows about 2,500 acres of pecan trees with his son.
``Typically we harvest every orchard twice,'' Pearson said. ``So you will go through your orchards and come back and go through them again. We would like to finish by Christmas, but we have to have real good weather and good machinery and no breakdowns ... We will have the bulk of them up for sure, but we might not finish completely by Christmas.''