WENATCHEE, Wash. — Stemilt Growers LLC is no stranger to conditioned pears, but the Wenatchee-based fruit marketer believes it is raising the bar this year with two brand-new tarpless ripening rooms.
“The rooms allow the pears to be conditioned in a very even way and a lot quicker than we were doing before,” said Brianna Shales, communications manager.
Stemilt has been conditioning pears for about seven years, Shales said, and history has shown that conditioned pears increase sales by 10% to 15% compared with unconditioned fruit.
“Conditioned pears create an even eating experience for consumers,” she said.
The two new ripening rooms at Stemilt’s Miller Street packing facility can handle a combined 88 pallets or 5,000 boxes at any one time.
The Miller Street facility has two packing lines of pears for Stemilt, and another packing facility has two other pear packing lines, Shales said.
“The ability to pack pears in four lines allows us to get an early jump in the pear deal,” she said. “It allows us to continue packing bartletts and also fill orders on other varieties as they come in.”
The pear ripening rooms resemble banana ripening rooms, said Steve Manring, inventory quality control manager for Stemilt.
Anjous can be conditioned in the room at various intervals, typically for five days at the beginning of the year and for two days later in the season.
Ethylene and temperature are two parts of the conditioning process and can be varied according to need. Most pear conditioning takes place with a ethylene concentration of about 100 parts per million and a temperature range of 50 to 65 degrees before the fruit is cooled.
“I like to stay above 10 pounds pressure,” Manring said. “The pear can scuff if it is below that.”
About half of Stemilt’s crop is packed for possible conditioning, he said. “It makes for a better eating pear.”