Valley farm helps meet global demand for pecans

FRESNO, Calif.

A scenic setting in Visalia is the center of the state's pecan industry. The split husks are almost ready to be shaken off these 35-foot tall trees.

Barrett Blain's father Brian planted this orchard back in 1974.

Blain said, "We got into pecans to diversify. At the time there were a lot of walnut plantings in California."

But now Blain Farms is California's biggest pecan producer with 800 acres.

More than two million pounds of pecans are grown in the south valley. The company is responsible for 80% of the state crop.

Blain explained, "California is really the last frontier for pecans. There's really no other really state in the country where there's as much potential for growing pecans."

At its store in Visalia "The Naked Nut," the company shells and processes the nuts and sells pecan halves, chocolate covered pecans and pecans for pie.

Charley Phillips of Atlas World Food and Agriculture said global demand for pecans has exploded. "From China to the middle east, everywhere from Africa to European countries, those people want product as fast as they can."

Phillips said the pecan industry needs more acreage and willing growers to meet a rapidly growing demand.

Barrett Blain is doing his part. He has hosted pecan growers from other countries and also travels overseas to offer tips to those looking to establish orchards.

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