Rocky Mount, N.C. — This time of year, pecan farmers in North Carolina are busy harvesting their crops. This year, their pecan trees are yielding a hefty return.
“We’ll walk for a half a day to find three pecans in the orchard. That’s just what we do. It’s just a passion we enjoy doing,” farmer Billy Bunn said.
Bunn, the president of the North Carolina Pecan Growers Association, says production this year is up about 200 percent.
While pecans are considered a minor crop when it comes to North Carolina's multimillion dollar agriculture industry – this year pecans are holding their own.
“So 1.3 million pounds a year is a good crop. At $2 a pound, it's a $5-6 million economic impact,” Bunn said.
“I just love them,” shopper Anne West said of pecans.
Pecan Day at the State Farmers Market last week attracted a lot of people shopping for the holiday favorite.
“I had pecan trees on my grandparents’ farm. I always picked them, cracked them and ate them, West said.
So what about folks the argue over the pronunciation, "pee-cans" or "p-cans."
“It’s regional. In North Carolina, it's "pee-cans." If you go to Georgia, Alabama down there, it’s "p-cans" and it takes me about twenty minutes to start saying p-cans down there,” Bunn said.
Bunn says this year's crop was three years in the making. He says after a good year, a bad year usually follows and that is just the nature of pecans.
He suggests freezing some extras for next year.