South Georgia pecan growers watch credit crisis - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia pecan growers watch credit crisis

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

November 14, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -  The worldwide banking and credit crisis is causing some worries for South Georgia pecan growers. Shellers aren't sure they'll be able to come up with the money to buy this year's crop and move it on to markets.

The pecan crop this year at Sunnyland Farms is excellent quality, and now those nuts are being shelled and packaged for sale through their mail order business.

But like many shellers, they are keeping a close eye on the credit crisis, to make sure they have the money needed to move millions of pounds of pecans.

Vice President Larry Willson said "Yea, it's a concern. I'm making sure to talk with our bankers all the time. Making sure they are happy and satisfied we are doing the right things."

This is the busy time of year for pecans.  Not only are the nuts being brought in from the trees, the holidays bring the heaviest sales time for their customers, not a time to worry about credit.

Willson said after last year's near record crop, demand has not forced shellers and manufacturers to be heavy buyers so far. But the price of pecans has dropped enough to see the sales start up, to the relief of worried growers.

 Willson said "I think you are starting to see some commercial shellers kind of dip their toe in the water and start to buy a few nuts. They are happy the level they are getting."

With the strengthening of the Dollar, sales to Asia and overseas markets are not as strong this year. Willson said many farmers will cold store their pecans until the demand and price increase.

Willson said "You are seeing more being held at the farm level and I think that's good. I think there is better awareness between different parts of the industry wants going on, and what it takes to bring this crop from the farm to the markets."

It takes money to do that. Money South Georgia pecan growers hope they're able to get their hands on.

Larry Willson says sales of their pecan products remain strong through their mail order business, even though pecans are more expensive right now than other varieties, especially walnuts and almonds.

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