Pear growers in the U.S. will probably see better prices for the 2012 season because of lower anticipated yields in the entire Northern Hemisphere, with volumes across Europe expected to be more than 20% lower than 2011.

Based on numbers presented at the 36th annual Prognosfruit Conference, Kevin Moffitt, president of the Pear Bureau Northwest, Milwaukie, Ore., said he is “pretty optimistic.”

“I expect supply and demand points to better pricing, maybe not at retail, but very likely for growers,” Moffitt said Aug. 3 during a call from the conference in Toulouse, France.

Moffitt said he had crunched the numbers on specific varieties U.S. growers export — conference, abate F and blanquilla — and it looks like big opportunities will come with harvest. The World Apple and Pear Association released its 2012 forecast at the conference.

Significant drops expected in EU pear, apple cropsConference pears, the No. 1 variety in terms of volume for the European Union, are expected to be down 21% compared to 2011. Blanquilla pear volumes are projected to be down 25% and abate F pear volumes are predicted to be 26% lower than last year.

“We send blanquillas to Brazil and abate to Germany, so I believe U.S. growers with those varieties will have good export business,” Moffit said.

“But the bigger picture here is that this is the smallest European crop in 10 years. If you look at all of the Northern hemisphere, it’s down about 17%. Our production in the U.S. is about 2% off our five-year average.”

Bad weather is being blamed for the lower yields in most growing areas, but the EU was particularly hard hit with an extremely cool spring, frosts at the wrong time and low pollination rates, Moffit said.

The apple crops across the EU also suffered at the hand of Mother Nature, but not as dramatically as pears, according to the WAPA forecast.

Overall WAPA projects apple volumes across the EU to be 9% lower than last year. The No. 1 apple, golden delicious, is expected to be 15% off last year’s numbers. Other apple varieties expected to have lower volumes include: galas, down 6%; jonagolds down 27%; jonathans down 32% and red delicious down 18%.

WAPA’s complete 2012 forecast is available at