California pears should begin shipping in early July, a week to ten days earlier than usual, and shippers expect ample demand when they do.

Scully Packing Co. LLC, Finley, Calif., expects to begin shipping from the Sacramento River district the week of July 7, about a week early, said Kyle Persky, the company’s sales manager.

“The quality should be outstanding,” Persky said. “There hasn’t been any significant weather to speak of.”

Reduced acreage and strong processing demand will likely cut river district fresh-market volumes by about 15% this season, Persky said.

Courtland, Calif.-based David J. Elliot & Son expects to begin packing red pears from the river district July 2-3, with bartletts following the week of July 7, said David Thiessen, sales manager.

Thiessen also expects a high-quality crop.

“Fruit finish should be excellent and we expect sugars to be high,” he said. “Conditions have been excellent since bloom.”

The early start should benefit California shippers, Thiessen said.

“It’s good to get a jump start on the season.”

Atomic Torosian, managing partner of Crown Jewels Produce, Fresno, Calif., agreed.

“Whenever you have an extra week, it works out better for the growers,” Torosian said.

Crown Jewels expects to begin shipping starkrimsons July 3-7 and bartletts July 5-7.

Scully’s mountain deal should begin about four weeks later, Persky said. The company sources about 80% from the mountain district, 20% from the river district.

Rain during bloom in the mountain district will cut into volumes this season, he said. The crop will likely be about 15% smaller than last year.

Overall, California fresh pear volumes could be down about 10% this year, Thiessen said.

With both California districts producing less this year, combined with strong demand, Persky expects brisk movement of California product this summer.

On June 17, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $28-30 for 4/5-bushel cartons of anjous 70-100s from Washington, up from $28 last year at the same time.

“The category’s doing well — the Northwest had a record crop and still moved out in good order, and imports are also doing well,” Persky said. “I think we’ll open up a little higher than last year and remain steady.”

In addition, Persky, the 2014 Northwest crop is expected to be down, which could help California at the end of its season.

Thiessen also expects robust demand for the 2014 California crop.

“The Northwest anjous are cleaning up pretty well, and offshore shouldn’t be a problem,” he said.

Demand from canneries this year has been as strong as it’s ever been, Torosian said. That, combined with a projected volume decline of 10-15% in California, lighter offshore supplies and high prices for Northwest pears, should spell strong demand for Golden State product.

“Everyone’s asking about California pears this season,” he said. “It’s shaping up pretty well.”