Does the explain plan change from development to production? Is it possible that because your have less test data that your development machine has better stats than production? It there a difference in versions of Oracle? You don't mention hardware or OS versions for either production or development. These are all factors that could make a difference. Without more information I can only guess.
You must be doing a lot of sorting in production when you run this query. I think that that is the only conclusion that I can make. but I can't tell you why.