Toasted pecans

Toasted pecans

Jeanna Bryner

If the syrupy smell of pecan pie makes your mouth water, there’s bad news: Last fall, severe storms wiped out crops of pecans in Alabama and Georgia–the United States’ top growers.

In September, three hurricanes (rotating tropical storms) walloped the southeast U.S. where pecans are farmed.

Pecans aren’t harvested until mid-October. So the nuts–sealed inside husks (outer covering of seeds)–were dangling from tree branches when the storms hit. Wind blasts topping 209 kilometers (130 miles) per hour snapped off loads of unripe pecans.

Worse? “The hurricanes’ wind heaved root systems from the ground, causing pecan trees to topple over,” says Tim Brenneman, a plant scientist at the University of Georgia.

Georgia lost 30 million pounds, or 60 million pies, worth of the nuts. Still, one pecan-picker lucked out: After the skies cleared, Brenneman says, squirrels gorged on some of the fallen nuts.

FULL O’ NUTS: It takes nearly 80 nuts to make a pecan pie.


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