NCPGA's objective is to encourage and promote research and education in all phases of the pecan industry, to interact with others in the interest of pecan growers throughout the region, and to promote pecans as a commercial crop in North Carolina.
North Carolina produces three to five million pounds of pecans annually. There are approximately 2,000 acres of pecans in North Carolina and most are managed as commercial orchards. Annually, well-managed orchards should produce 1,200 to 1,500 pounds per acre when trees are mature at 20 years. Depending on individual marketing practices, prices paid for high-quality, in-shell pecans will average about $1.00 per pound. This acre return places pecans well ahead of many row crops grown in North Carolina.
The largest concentration of commercial pecan orchards in North Carolina are located east of Interstate 95. Most soil types in eastern and southern North Carolina Piedmont are suitable for pecan production. Pecan varieties adapted for planting in North Carolina require approximately 200 frost-free days from pollination to nut maturity. Pecan orchards in the Northern Piedmont have proven to be successful in years without early- or late-season freezes.
North Carolina consistently ranks in the top 10 states in production of new and improved pecan varieties. Georgia leads the nation in pecan production, followed by Texas, then Alabama. The demand for North Carolina grown pecans is increasing as consumers and major shellers realize the quality available from well-managed North Carolina orchards.
Growers benefit from the strong support of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, NC State University, and the North Carolina Pecan Growers Association. North Carolina pecans are versatile and can be purchased in volume during harvest for year-round use.
One goal of NCPGA is for North Carolina to be recognized as a viable partner on the national pecan scene. Leading pecan publications routinely include articles about our NCPGA educational agendas, and other information as provided by the Association. NCPGA member attendance at other state's pecan association meetings has demonstrated the commitment of North Carolina pecan growers.
Several Association members serve as directors and officers in the Southeastern Pecan Growers Association. The Southeastern Association represents the world's largest pecan growing region. The SEPGA Annual Convention is viewed as a highly favored forum by national pecan leaders to present their research papers and by allied industry representatives as the premier event to demonstrate their products and services.
The Association's educational programs are based on periodic member surveys to determine subjects of interest. Routinely, member feedback focuses on new orchard establishment, proper orchard management, production of quality pecans, and marketing strategies.
Membership has stabilized with 90 to 100 active growers located in 5 Southeastern states. North Carolina has the highest number of members, but South Carolina members are managing more trees. Initially, most members resided east of and along the Interstate 95 corridor. A large number of members are now located in the Piedmont region of both North and South Carolina. There are over 20,000 trees under management by NCPGA members.
Since organizing, the Association has participated in numerous trade shows, educational programs and farm shows. NCPGA has been a regular participant at the NC State Fair, Southern Farm Show, North Carolina Farmers Market and similar regionalized farm-related programs. Press kits have regularly been provided to magazines and the news media to promote pecans and the state of North Carolina as a provider of quality pecans.
An eight member steering committee, consisting primarily of pecan growers in eastern North Carolina, assembled during the summer months of 1994 to develop a constitution and by-laws for the North Carolina Pecan Growers Association. On October 26, 1994, the association was officially chartered as a 501c-3 non-profit organization. That steering committee developed the following as its mission statement:
"To encourage and promote research and education in all phases of the pecan industry, to interact with others in the interest of pecan growers throughout the region, and to promote pecans as a commercial crop in North Carolina."
In pursuance of its mission, NCPGA sponsors annual educational workshops and field days. At each event, a NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Marketing Specialist, North Carolina State University Extension Specialists, research specialists, national experts, and NCPGA personnel participate in the educational programs and in demonstration orchards.