For Northwest pears, the variety playbook is staying mostly the same.
Robert Wymore, vice president of operations for Diamond Fruit Growers Inc., Odell, Ore., said there haven’t been any new pear proprietary varieties that have entered the scene.
“They don’t seem to find the diversity of pears like they do in apples,” Wymore said. “I think they are more aggressive in their breeding programs for apples than pears.
“We’ve just haven’t had a lot of luck finding new varieties of pears,” he said.
Growers are decreasing their acreage of asian pears in the Northwest, he said.
“California is so dominant on asian pears, they figured out they could do other varieties more profitably, so they are cycling asian pears out,” Wymore said.
Mac Riggan, vice president of marketing for Chelan Fresh Marketing, Chelan, Wash., said the reliable standby pear varieties are anjous, bosc, bartletts, and red varieties.
While concorde is a newer variety that has a great flavor profile, it hasn’t yet captured consumers’ imaginations.
Because the appearance of the concorde can vary from clear to russeted from year to year, Riggan said it is tough for some consumers to become familiar with the good-eating pear variety, he said.
Lynnell Brandt, president of Proprietary Variety Management, said there is some interest globally in finding new pear varieties.
“The pear category is crying out for differentiation, and we’re going to try to address that,” he said.
There are new crosses that pair the European-type pear with an asian pear, with a crisp texture but more body and character than the asian pear.
Recently gained specific knowledge of the pear genome could lead to breeding advances in pear varieties.
Amit Dhingra, a horticultural genomicist at Washington State, said researchers at the school have sequenced the genome of the comice pear, the golden delicious apple, the stella sweet cherry and an almond.
Looking to the future, Dhingra said breeders could use knowledge of the genome to produce improved ripening and storage characteristics in pear varieties.