California pear crop may hit late; volume likely normal - The Packer

California pear crop may hit late; volume likely normal

07/15/2011 01:54:00 PM
Chuck Robinson

The California pear crop is behind schedule this season, but it’s expected to result in more volume than last year.

California growers anticipate packing 4.1 million 36-pound box equivalents, said Chris Zanobini, president of the California Pear Advisory Board, Sacramento.

Most of the crop — about 3.2 million boxes — will be bartlett pears.

The crop estimate is larger than last year’s production, which was 3.6 million boxes, but it is smaller than 2009’s nearly 4.7 million boxes, Zanobini said. This year’s production should be about average for the past few years, he said.

Demand for California pears has been steady for several years, said Steve Johnson, marketing director for Johnson Orchards Inc., Ukiah, Calif.

Prices generally open in the mid- to high $20 range for large pears in 40-pound wrap packs, said Kyle Persky, sales manager for Scully Packing Co. LLC, Finley, Calif. The smaller fruit in 36-pound tight-fill boxes are typically priced in the midteens when the market opens, he said.

On July 13, 4/5-bushel wrapped cartons of U.S. No. 1 anjou pears from Oregon at the Los Angeles terminal market were priced at $26 for sizes 110-80, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported.

Persky said he expects good demand for large wraps, with plenty of promotional opportunities for midsized and small fruit.

Behind schedule

The early pear district in California is the River District, which includes the upper Sacramento Valley and the Sacramento River Delta, will likely be late getting started.

The River District produces about two-thirds of the state’s pears. The late district, called the Mountain District, includes Mendocino, Lake and El Dorado counties.

This spring’s unusually cool and wet weather slowed the California pear crop’s progress. Some growers in the River District expect to begin harvesting about July 18, which is about two weeks behind normal, said Atomic Torosian, partner in Crown Jewels Marketing and Distribution LLC, Fresno, Calif. Crown Jewels markets pears for Greene and Hemly Inc., Courtland, Calif.

David J. Elliot & Sons, Courtland, Calif., planned to begin packing its first pears, stark crimsons, on about July 15, said David Thiessen, sales manager. Bartletts are expected to be ready by about July 25. The company sells only what it grows and packs, he said.

Thiessen said the cool and wet spring did not affect pear quality, but sizing might be a challenge at the beginning of the harvest.

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