Packer files for bankruptcy

An organic tree fruit packing company in Central Washington is seeking bankruptcy protection in federal court.

On Oct. 8, Pac Organic Fruit, a limited liability company based in Quincy, Wash., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which allows firms to operate while they develop debt repayment plans with creditors.

The company owes between $1 million and $10 million to fewer than 100 creditors, but has less than $50,000 in assets, according to the bankruptcy filing.

Greg Holzman of San Francisco, Calif., is named in the filing as the debtor and principal member of the company. Holzman also heads Pacific Organic Produce, a major organic wholesale firm based in San Francisco.

As of press time, Holzman was traveling overseas and could not be reached for comment.

-- Mateusz Perkowski

Pecans plentiful; damage possible

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Pecan production is expected to reach 309 million pounds this year, up nearly 60 percent from last year's 193.9 million pounds, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While increased production suggests increased availability, continued rainy weather could hurt crop quality in major pecan-growing states. That could affect pricing at the grocery store.

USDA officials noted in an Oct. 9 report that frequent summer rains produced widespread disease problems in Georgia, the nation's biggest pecan producer, with about 90 million pounds expected this year.

"We want to make sure consumers get the best," said Vickie Mabry, executive director of the National Pecan Shellers Association.

The sometimes heavy rains that vexed other farmers earlier in the season have helped fill out the crop in parts of central and northern Louisiana, said Tom Vogel, the president of the Louisiana Pecan Growers Association, whose own business has orchards in those areas. However, "the rains need to quit" with the harvest looming, he said.

Louisiana's pecan crop is expected to reach 8 million pounds this year, exceeding last year's hurricane-ravaged crop but falling far short from 2007's 14-million pound bumper crop. "Alternate bearing" pecans are known for yo-yo production -- good years followed by bad.

Sammye Crawford, deputy director of Louisiana's branch of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, said she has gotten reports of farmers losing pecans because of the recent stormy weather.

"If I had to comment on that, you probably won't be looking at cheap pecans this year," she said.

But Vogel said he expects to sell pecans at the same price as last year. He said he hopes that carries through the chain, from sheller to retailer to consumer.

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