California pear crop may hit late; volume likely normal

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

Promotable pear volumes should be available by about July 25, Zanobini said.

Torosian said River District pears need to be promoted aggressively because the window is short, from mid-July until the Mountain District and Pacific Northwest enter the market.

The River District is expected to produce 1.9 million boxes of bartlett pears, Zanobini said.

Growers in the Mountain District expect to begin harvesting pears in about mid-August, Zanobini said.

In late June, Johnson said Johnson Orchard’s mountain crops looked good with clean fruit. Johnson Orchards’ pears are marketed under the Eagle Peak label.

Johnson said the crop was developing slower than normal, and harvest was expected to begin relatively late. Johnson Orchards expects to pack pears from other growers in the River District on about Aug. 1.

It packs bartletts from the River and Mountain districts, and stark crimsons from its own crops in the Mountain District, Johnson said. Johnson Orchards expects to pack its own pears by about Aug. 8.

The largest volume pear variety grown in California is the bartlett, but production of other varieties is increasing, Zanobini said. Bartlett production is remaining fairly steady because they are heavily used for processing, where there is a limited market, Zanobini said.

Growers are diversifying crops with other varieties.

Bosc varieties, including bosc and golden russet bosc, are the second largest variety. This year’s bosc crop is expected to be large, with 700,000 boxes, Zanobini said. Other varieties and estimated production: stark crimson, 85,000 boxes; seckel, 34,000; comice, 24,000; sunsprite, 18,000; french butter, 10,000; and forelle, 4,000.

An additional 16,000 boxes of red varieties also are expected to be packed.

Torosian said he expects stark crimson red pears to be available first, with boscs and golden boscs ready about Aug. 8. Specialties, including seckel, forelle, comice and taylor’s gold, will be available later. He expects to market a slightly larger volume of specialties this season, although he declined to release specific numbers.

Persky said the growth in varietals during the past five years is related to a bigger focus on the pear category as a whole, instead of a focus only on bartletts.

In addition to bartlett pears, Scully packs bosc, hailey red bartlett, crimson, comice, seckel and forelle. Scully expects to pack about 10% more pears this season compared to last year, Persky said.

Organic

California growers expect to ship about 64,500 boxes of organic pears, Zanobini said. Most of those will be bartletts.



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