Jun 5, 2013Northwest pear estimate up slightly from last year
Representatives of the Pacific Northwest pear industry, responsible for 84 percent of the U.S. fresh pear crop, met recently in Portland, Ore., to project the size of the 2013 fresh pear harvest.
With reports of a crop of excellent quality from the growing regions of Wenatchee and Yakima in Washington and Mid-Columbia and Medford in Oregon, the total projection is approximately 19.8 million 44-lb. box equivalents (or 436,410 tons) of pears for the fresh market. This estimate is 4 percent larger than the five-year average and 2 percent larger than last year’s crop, which would make the forthcoming crop the third largest on record.
Average harvest timing is expected, beginning in early August with the Starkrimson variety picked first, followed by Bartletts. Winter pear varieties such as the Anjou, Bosc, Comice, Concorde, Forelle and Seckel will be picked from early September through mid-October. The quality of the fruit looks excellent, with no significant weather issues affecting the crop to date.
Green Anjou pears, the most abundantly grown variety in the Pacific Northwest, are showing a projected increase of 3 percent compared to 2012, which makes for a 2 percent increase from the five-year average. Bartlett pears are projected to decrease by 5 percent compared to last season’s large crop, but will be 9 percent larger than the five-year average.
Growers are expecting the Bosc pear crop to increase by 7 percent over last year’s yield. The size of the Red Anjou pear crop is expected to increase by 6 percent, which would make it 14 percent larger than the 5-year average. They’re projecting the yield to double for other red winter pears, including varieties like the Red Angelo, for an increase of 104 percent compared to 2012 – a 76 percent increase over the five-year average.
The top three varieties in terms of production remain the same as in previous years: Green Anjou pears are anticipated to make up 53 percent of the total crop, and Bartlett and Bosc pears are expected to yield 22 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
In terms of organic pear production, projections show that the Pacific Northwest will continue its overall growth trend this season, with a total of 869,885 44-lb. box equivalents (19,785 tons) of organic pears, an increase of 3 percent compared to 2012 and a 14 percent increase over the five-year average. Green Anjou and Bartlett remain the most abundant organic pear varieties, with the organic Green Anjou’s projected yield at 381,500 44-lb. box equivalents, and the Green Bartlett estimated at 285,600.
“This year’s crop looks to be of very manageable size,” said Kevin Moffitt, Pear Bureau Northwest’s president and CEO. “With no major weather issues to date, the industry is projecting a crop with excellent quality and fruit size to meet the demands of the domestic and export markets. A full range of promotions are planned, as well as consumer advertising, social media and PR to continue to expand consumer awareness and demand.”
The bureau will engage in export promotions in 38 countries, with 18 international marketing representatives coordinating promotions. The top export markets for U.S. pears will remain Mexico, Canada, Russia, Brazil, Colombia, the UAE, Hong Kong and India, which is one of the strongest growth markets for the industry. Special promotions are planned for the Chinese market, which granted access to U.S. pears for the first time in February, and is expected to become a top 10 market for the Northwest pear industry within the next three years.
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– Cristie Mather, Pear Bureau Northwest