LEE CO., GA (WALB) - Theft from privately owned pecan groves continues to be a major problem for South Georgia pecan farmers.
But many question who owns the pecans that have fallen on the public right of way.
According to O.C.G.A 44-12-240, the pecan harvest season will officially end December 31.
South Georgia farmers said while it has been a tough season interrupted by rains, the harvest season has been an overall success.
But after the harvest season ends, the law regarding nuts on public property change.
During that time period, all pecans on branches or on the ground belong to the owner of the trees from which they fall, even if they fall on public roads.
And with the nuts ranging in price from 75 cents up to $3 a pound, Lee county extension coordinator Doug Collins said every loss is detrimental to farmers.
"Theft has always been a problem with pecans for decades, that's nothing new," said Collins. "But with the higher prices, it's maybe a little bit of a worse problem sometimes."
But what many people don't know is that after the harvest season ends, those nuts on public roads and highways are deemed to be abandoned by the owners of the pecans, according to O.C.G.A 44-12-242.
That means that any person can remove those nuts from the public rights of way, without facing criminal charges.
But it's important to remember that it is always illegal to remove nuts from private property any day of the year.
Violators will be charged with a misdemeanor.