From the Wall Street Journal:

Pecans are as all-American as anything can be. Washington and Jefferson grew them. They are the state nut of Arkansas, Alabama and Texas. The U.S. grows about two-thirds of the world's pecans and chews most of them itself.

For generations, pecan prices have fallen with bumper crops and soared with lousy ones. But lately, they've only been going up. A pound of pecans in the shell fetched $2.14 on average last year, according to the U.S Department of Agriculture, nearly double what they brought three years earlier.

The reason: The Chinese want our nuts.

Five years ago, China bought hardly any pecans. In 2009, China bought one-quarter of the U.S. crop, and there's no sign demand is abating.

Nearly $1 of every $5 China spent on U.S. items last year went to buy food of some sort, $16.6 billion worth, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. U.S. exports of goods of all sorts to China more than doubled between 2005 and 2010. Exports of crops and processed foods—soybeans, dairy, rice, fruit juice—more than tripled. Exports of pecans rose more than 20-fold.

For more, see: Shell Shock: Chinese Demand Reshapes U.S. Pecan Business