The bulk of California pears are grown in the Sacramento River Delta, but as the transition to Oregon and Washington nears, the state will see action at higher elevations.
Delta production was underway by the first week of July, with Mendocino County expected to come online by month’s end. Lake County follows.
Oregon and Washington are expected to start a few days earlier than last year. The region will have stark crimsons and bartletts by late July and other varieties picking late August through mid-October.
Some California growers operate at all elevations.
Steve Johnson, marketing director for Ukiah, Calif.-based Johnson Family Ranch in Mendocino County, said he anticipates a solid market.
“I think it’s going to be a good year,” he said. “There’s high demand for pears, the quality is good, and the crop’s down a little. It should make for a steady, consistent market.”
Johnson Family Ranch started picking in the Sacramento River area around July 14.
“We’ll have some stark crimson from the mountain district about the last week of July,” Johnson said. “Toward the end of August we’ll start picking some golden boscs.”
In Finley, Calif., Scully Packing Co. began packing delta pears — bartletts and red crimsons — July 7 under its First Lady label.
“We open our second facility in Lakeport in August, when we begin mountain district bartletts,” said Kyle Persky, sales manager.
“The California bosc crop is going to be down quite a bit due to some acreage removal and just in general a shorter crop,” Persky said. “The official bartlett estimate is down about 12% from last year. That’s about what we expect.”
Reduced acreage and strong processing demand will probably drop river district fresh market volumes about 15%, Persky said.
Johnson predicts good quality.
“With the lack of rain here in California, pear quality is going to be outstanding,” he said. “Rain sometimes can cause russeting and brown the fruit a little or make it difficult to grow. This year it’s just a really clean crop, and we should have some nice sizing.”
In Oregon and Washington, Pear Bureau Northwest has estimated the pear crop at about 18.7 million 44-pound box equivalents — or 411,400 tons — for the fresh market. That’s down 6% from the five-year average and 13% from last year’s record crop.