The 2010 volume of California, Oregon and Washington pears is not expected to challenge the record production of 2009, but there will be plenty of fruit, grower-shippers said.

All three states endured unusually cold and wet conditions during the spring.

Milwaukie, Ore.-based Pear Bureau Northwest is estimating the 2010 Oregon and Washington pear volume at 18.5 million cartons, which is slightly above the region’s five-year average, said Kevin Moffitt, president and chief executive officer.

The volume is forecast to be about 8% lower than last year’s record crop, he said.

The California Pear Advisory Board is scheduled to release its crop estimate June 24, said Chris Zanobini, executive director.

The consensus among some California grower-shippers, however, is that the volume for all varieties will be down about 10%, said Doug Hemly, co-owner of Greene & Hemly Inc., Courtland, Calif.

Overall bartlett volume, California’s number one pear variety, could be down as much as 25%, said David Thiessen, sales manager for David J. Elliot & Son, Courtland. However, the bartlett crop at David J. Elliot & Son is going to be very close to the company’s 2009 volume, he said.

A few Oregon and Washington growers suffered some frost damage, Moffitt said.

“But the smaller-size fruit lets us ship more pears in the export business,” he said.

Exports capture about 35% of fresh Northwest pear shipments, Moffitt said.

The industry has planned comprehensive export and domestic promotion programs for the upcoming season.

“We’re going to be able to support promotion at all levels,” Moffitt said.

The Pear Bureau plans to use in-house data analysis to customize promotions for retailers throughout North America, he said, and its presence at consumer and trade events will support ongoing promotions.

The cool spring weather means a slight harvest delay for the California pear industry

“We’ll probably start about a week or so later than normal due to the cold spring,” Hemly said.

Early pear varieties are scheduled to begin coming off the trees at Greene and Hemly about July 9, he said.

The only other effect of the spring weather was some spotty hail damage.

“It’s not an industry issue, it’s an individual issue,” Hemly said. “Supply and demand should be in pretty good balance with the quality from normal to good.”

The harvest at David J. Elliot & Son is expected to begin in mid-July, Thiessen said.

“Once the fruit is pre-conditioned and cooled again, we should start shipping the week of July 18,” he said, “And we’ll continue at least through October.”

The quality of the Northwest fruit looks excellent, Moffitt said. The harvest is scheduled to begin in mid-August, he said, with bartletts, red bartletts and other red pear varieties.

Picking and packing of winter pear varieties, such as the anjou, bosc, comice, concorde, forelle and seckel, con-tinues into early October.

“Between California and the Northwest and today’s controlled-atmosphere storage, we can cover the market pretty much all year-round,” Moffitt said.

Organic volume in Oregon and Washington is forecast to be up about 5% over 2009 for summer varieties, but down slightly for the winter pears. The 2010 volume is expected to be nearly 800,000 cartons, almost double the production of organic pears in the Northwest five years ago, Moffitt said.

West Coast pears to be down slightly from 2009