(Oct. 10) The asian pear harvest has reached half-time with California grower-shippers saying the crop is as predicted — excellent quality and good size.

Good quality and taste are not the only positives of this year’s crop, said Dan Spain, vice president of sales and marketing for Kingsburg Orchards, Kingsburg, Calif.

“An advantage for retailers is that apple pears hold up well in cold storage for several months,” Spain said, “and shoppers can keep them in a refrigerator for up to three months.”

Unusually cool temperatures in late September and early October helped boost sizing, said John Hein, co-managing partner and director of sales for Crown Jewels Marketing & Distribution, LLC, Fresno, Calif. About half of the company’s asian pear crop had been harvested by Oct. 5.

“We expect to finish picking in early November,” Hein said.

Crown Jewels will ship about 500,000 cartons this season, he said.

The Fruit Patch Sales Co., Dinuba, Calif., will ship about 250,000 cartons of asian pears this season, said Dave Parker, director of marketing. Harvesting of the shinko, niitaka and atago varieties was drawing to a close Oct. 5, he said.

“We’ll match anybody for good eating,” Parker said. “Sugar content is excellent.”

The company’s grower, a Japanese-American who uses traditional Japanese growing practices, has produced lots of good quality 12s and 13s, Parker said.