Georgia is the nation’s largest pecan producing state; Georgia pecans account for approximately one-third of all pecans produced in the United States. On an annual basis, Georgia pecan growers average growing around 88 million pounds of pecans. Pecans are a healthy food - which has increased their popularity in the last decade. They can be eaten directly out of the shell, and are also used in pies, candies, cookies, salads, and other dishes. Pecans mix particularly well with another Georgia staple - apples. Harvesting season for Georgia pecans is from October-December, making them available for the holidays and encouraging better prices for Georgia pecan growers.
While pecan orchards can be found in almost any part of the state, Georgia’s pecan industry is centered in southwest Georgia, in the counties surrounding Albany - primarily Dougherty and Mitchell Counties. Pecan orchards in this area actually began on plantations as part of a real estate venture in the early twentieth century - small tracts of land were planted with pecan trees and sold as farms or homes. Georgia saw a “pecan boom” between 1910 and 1925. But by the 1950s the growth of pecans had become a commercial enterprise, which has continued to grow and flourish, with the development of new and better means of production, better means of storage, more uses for pecans as their value as a health food grew, and development of new varieties of pecans - such as the popular “papershells” - pecans with easy to crack shells, which makes retrieving the nuts much easier.
One final note about Georgia pecans trees - not related to the delicious nut they produce. In 1995, Georgia pecan wood was selected by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games to make the handles of the torches for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. These pecan-wood made torches were carried in the relays which took the torches from Athens, Greece to the United States, then all around the country, culminating with the lighting of the Olympic flame in Atlanta on July 19, 1996.