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Georgia reclaims top U.S. pecan producer; Kemp declares pecans official state nut

Governor Brian Kemp declared the pecan as Georgia’s official state nut Friday.
Governor Brian Kemp declared the pecan as Georgia’s official state nut Friday.(Kinsley Centers)
Published: Apr. 10, 2021 at 2:18 PM EDT
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VIENNA, Ga. (WALB) - Georgia has now reclaimed the number one spot for pecan production in the U.S., according to a recent report by the USDA.

This comes as Governor Brian Kemp declared the pecan as Georgia’s official state nut Friday.

Governor Kemp signed SB 222 Friday in Vienna at Ellis Brothers Pecans, making the pecan the official nut for the State of Georgia.

But what about Georgia’s other favorite, the peanut? Well, it’s actually not a nut but listed in the pea family and because of this and the big bucks that pecans bring to Georgia, Senator Carden Summers and many more pushed to have the pecan named the official nut.

“Well, we did our homework, we got out and told people what the facts were, how much pecans mean for the economy,” said Summers.

Kemp said he’s doing more for pecan farmers than just declaring it the state nut. He said he’s helping farmers, like pecan producers, by diversifying and creating economic development for rural Georgia, along with getting broadband internet to those rural farms.

The governor is counting on good marketing from the state level and people supporting Georgia, both domestically and internationally.

“I’m very hopeful about the position that Georgia’s in from an economic development perspective and agriculture. I mean, I fully understand how tough it has been on the farm for many years now,” said Kemp.

A lot of that came from 2018′s Hurricane Michael, which hit Georgia hard, taking out 26,000 acres of trees, according to Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black, along with $560 million dollars according to UGA and it shows.

According to a January USDA report, Georgia was number two for pecan production in 2018 and 2019, just behind New Mexico. However, Georgia claimed number one in 2020.

“Our nursery capacity increased pretty quickly, so we got a lot of replanting. There were some people that didn’t replant but we’re still having new producers come on the market. People are realizing, ‘I’m gonna support my own. I’m gonna buy Georgia grown,’” said Black.

Friday’s event was hosted at Ellis Brothers Pecans. Brad Ellis is vice president and is a multi-generational Georgia pecan farmer who said he lost about 4,000 trees after Hurricane Michael. Ellis said they are just now getting all those trees planted again.

“We had like two poor crops because of Hurricane Michael but then this past season was probably our largest crop,” said Ellis.

Ellis said he’s happy the bill was signed and glad pecans are finally getting the recognition they deserve. He believes Governor Kemp is putting Georgia on the right track for pecans, the crop that’s planted in his family’s blood.

“Yes, I do, I think when the price comes back, we get over the tariff wars and that kind of thing that got the price down right now, I think we’ll continue to grow,” said Ellis.

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