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Drought may make Ga. No. 1 in pecans

ALBANY, Ga. (AP) — The record drought gripping the Southeast isnít all bad news for Georgia.

The historic dry spell has meant nearly perfect weather for growing pecans, and Georgia is on pace to be the nationís top producer this year after slipping to third in 2006, said pecan horticulturist Lenny Wells with the University of Georgiaís agriculture extension.

Shellers are predicting Georgia will harvest more than 125 million pounds by the end of the year, he said.

The nationís two other top producers — New Mexico and Texas — are not expected to grow nearly as much, Wells said. New Mexicoís predictions are for a pecan crop of 80 million pounds, and Texas is expected to have 73 million pounds, Wells said.

Texas was the top producer in 2006, followed by New Mexico, which meant Georgia — which is usually a top producer — dropped to third. New Mexicoís harvest was worth $85 million, followed by Texas at $75 million and Georgia with $66 million.

This year Georgia had a spring freeze that destroyed a few orchards close to Augusta, but the drought — combined with irrigated orchards and some August and September rains — have been kind to the pecan crop.

Texas has had heavy rains this year, which encourage disease in pecan crops

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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