Pecans - both in their shells and out.
Pecans - both in their shells and out.

Rain this summer and low grower prices have conspired to dampen the 2013 season for Georgia pecan growers.

Rain during June, July and August created conditions conducive to the fungal disease, scab, reducing nut size and quantity, according to a news release.

Before the start of the season, Georgia looked like it would have about a 90 million pound crop. Now it's looking more like 65 million to 70 million pounds.

Part of the shortfall could be mitigated by inventory carryover.

At the same time, small-scale growers, who typically gather runs from non-commercial trees, could net just $1 per pound.

Commercial producers could see prices of $2.75 to $3 per pound for their best quality nuts.

If predictions of a small crop prove true, those prices could increase later in the marketing year.

Prices also depend on exports. In recent years, China has proven to be a lucrative market.

Chinese New Year, which is a large nut-buying holiday, is Jan. 31, 2014, a bit earlier than some other years.

So the window to ship pecans to China is smaller than usual.

“It’s going to be interesting to see this year because the volume of the crop nationwide is not there like it has been,” Lenny Wells, an Extension pecan horticulturist with the University of Georgia, said in a release. “I kind of suspect as harvest progresses and we really see how short this crop is, this may be one of those years we see the price increase late in the year.”

Scab was bad in many orchards but particularly those planted to the Desirable variety, the most common type.

Some growers sprayed more than 20 times this season, which is about twice as much as normal. And they still had scab problems.

One of the most visible symptoms of scab is decreased production.