Valdosta Daily Times

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October 28, 2009

Pickin’ Up Pecans

Companies buy pecans by the pound

The Valdosta Daily Times — VALDOSTA — In the fall at harvest time, nuts litter the ground wherever there are pecan trees. The harvest season for pecans runs from October through January, and it’s not uncommon to see people picking up pecans to sell to local businesses.

A number of pecan trees are on public property, like those on the lawn next to Guardian Bank on Norman Drive, and beside the James H. Rainwater Conference Center.

While the nuts on public property are apparently up for grabs, those on private property are strictly off limits.

Legally, nuts that fall in the right-of-way next to a county road or highway belong to the owner of the tree, said Ashley Paulk. In addition to his job as chairman of the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners, Paulk’s family owns Shiloh Farms, one of the largest pecan growers in the state.

What pecan growers do before harvesting, Paulk said, is sweep the pecans into a line before picking them up with harvesters. It’s not uncommon, he said, for people to park their car beside a pecan grove, run into the field and grab a couple bucketfuls of pecans. At harvest time, some pecan pilferers raid pecan groves at night during a full moon, he said.

Georgia leads the nation in pecan production, averaging 88 million pounds each year, according to the Georgia Pecan Commission. There are more than 500 varieties of pecans, nine of which are included on the price list at South Georgia Pecan Company. The most profitable type, called “desirables,” brings in 90 cents per pound.

Folks who pick up pecans to sell them in town typically find their way to either Guess Pecans or South Georgia Pecan Company, where they can be exchanged for cash.

The line of those who come to sell frequently stretches out the door at both businesses. People carry their pecans in a variety of ways: aluminum wash tubs, plastic buckets, garbage bags, grocery bags, etc.

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