The State of Pecan Pie in Texas: It Ain't That Good

Texas Pecan trees have taken a punch. The USDA predicts our state's trees will collectively produce 40 millions pounds of pecans this year, which is 30 million pounds less than the 2010 crop.

The Sunnyvale Pecan orchard east of Dallas is closed for the season. And today I spoke with Red Graham at the Dallas Farmer's Market, who told me: "Some growers were able to produce some, those that irrigated and have trees near rivers. But otherwise, it's hard to find a Texas pecan."

Fear not, though. That's why we joined the union. Most distributors are bringing them in from other states across the southwest. Of course, when things are harder to find, they usually cost more.

"Last year pecans were about $10 a pound," said Graham. "This year they're closer to $14 and $15 a pound, but that isn't really slowing any one down from buying them."

The heart of the issue is pie. Will we be able to make or buy pecan pie? Yes. Will it always be a Texas pecan pie? Maybe not. But Executive Chef Jim Dunleavy of Eatzie's told me they will have "literally tons of pecan pie."

Odie Dollins runs Durham Ellis Pecan, a sheller and processor in Comanche, Texas. In speaking about the shortage of pecans, he told me that another factor in the market is China. Word got out that the nutritional benefits of pecans exceed those of almonds and walnuts (another reason for more pie), and for the past five years China has been importing millions of pounds. According to the Texas Pecan Growers Association, between 80 and 100 million pounds of U.S. pecans were shipped to China in 2009, which was 25 percent of the entire U.S. and Mexico pecan production.

So: Drought or China, Texas pecans are harder to find and will cost a bit more, but again, we reiterate. There will be pie.

There will be pie.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.