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David J. Elliot & Son Co., located south of Sacramento near Courtland, CA, grows pears in the Sacramento Delta area but not the mountain districts of Mendocino and Lake counties.

David Thiessen, sales manager for David J. Elliot & Son Co., told The Produce News June 24 that the company's first pear of the season is a Stark Crimson, which it would start harvesting around July 8. Bartlett pears will follow soon after with a harvest start date around July 15-16.

"With Bartletts, the initial pack is generally preconditioned, unless a customer doesn't want it, which adds a couple of days to the process," Mr. Thiessen said. "We hope to be shipping [Bartletts] by around July 17-18."

The company's Golden Bosc harvest should start the first week of August and the harvest for the rest of the varietal pears, including Seckel, Comice and French Butter, will start by mid-August, Mr. Thiessen said.

The pipeline is cleaning up nicely for the California pear season, Mr. Thiessen said.

"Industry reports indicate the Northwest Anjou crop is winding down, red pears are virtually gone and the imports are cleaning up or not holding up," Mr. Thiessen said.

From Elliot's standpoint, an unusually wet spring hasn't adversely affected the crop.

"The fruit finish and volume should be very close to last year although preliminary industry reports are for a reduction in the statewide pear crop," Mr. Thiessen said. "Overall fruit quality looks very good at this stage."

Mr. Thiessen said that the sizing on Bartletts is a little too early to predict, but it typically starts out peaking on 100s and moves to a peak on 90s as the season progresses.

"We hope, with a later start, the fruit will size a little better than last year," Mr. Thiessen said.

This season Elliot will continue to offer consolidation of all its products in the Fresno, CA, tree fruit growing region as well as Courtland. All of Elliot's products have GS1 labeling to aid in traceability and Elliot is Nutraclean- and Primas Labs-certified.

Elliot launched a new web site this year (www.stillwaterorchards.com) that has information on the products and styles of packs the company offers as well as a current information section that will offer the latest crop and variety information.

Finley, CA-based Scully Packing Co. LLC is facing a late start for its California pear harvest. Kyle Persky, sales manager for Scully, told The Produce News June 22 that its harvest of Bartlett pears in the Sacramento Delta was going to be delayed by 10 to 14 days and likely would start the week of July 19.

About 80 percent of Scully's Bartlett pear production takes place in the mountain districts of Mendocino and Lake counties. That harvest should start the week of Aug. 9 and run through the first week of September, Mr. Persky said.

Scully expects to have Red Crimson pears from the Sacramento Delta by the week of July 19. Its mountain harvest of Red Crimson pears should start the first week of August.

Scully grows Bosc pears in all three major production areas in California. The company also grows Seckel, Comice and Forelle varieties.

Bartlett pears account for the majority of Scully's pear production. The mountain districts are the "strongest area for pears," Mr. Persky said.

Scully has hired Tom Frawley, a new salesman for the pear marketing season. His background includes working as a field buyer and as a citrus broker. California had a cold spring, which "pushed the crop back 10 to 14 days," Mr. Persky said. "Rain affects the start date - not the quality."

The late start doesn't necessarily mean a shorter season for California pears. Still, a later start will have shippers missing opportunities to move their pears, Mr. Persky said.

Mr. Persky said that he anticipates a "clean pipeline" for California pears. He said that fewer imported pears came into the United States this year. Washington state moved a lot pears -- perhaps 15 percent more than last year, Mr. Persky said.

"The [pear] category is on the rise," Mr. Persky said, adding that export markets "are more of an option" than in the past.

California companies have had success exporting pears primarily to Canada and Mexico, and to a lesser extent, the Pacific Rim. Now Brazil is emerging as an export destination, Mr. Persky said.

Promotional programs and a better understanding by retailers of pear conditioning have helped boost pear sales, Mr. Persky said.

Scully has an advantage over some of its competitors in that it grows pears in all three of the major growing districts in California. As an overall industry, California pears may be down 10-15 percent this year, Mr. Persky said. Larelle Miller, saleswoman for Lodi, CA-based All State Packers Inc., told The Produce News June 23 that Bartlett pears make up about 65 percent of All State's pear volume. The company grows in all three major California growing districts: the Sacramento Delta area and the mountain districts of Mendocino and Lake counties.

Ms. Miller said that she expects All State's pear harvest to be 10 to 14 days late as a result of cold spring temperatures, with its Bartlett pear harvest starting around July 17-18. The company grows most of its Bartlett pears in the Sacramento River area.

All State starts its pear harvest with the niche Sunsprite variety -- similar to a Bartlett -- that usually starts about 10 days earlier than Bartlett and fills a gap before the Bartletts come on. This year, the Sunsprite harvest likely will start around July 3, Ms. Miller said.

All State's Stark Crimson pear harvest should start around July 13. The company anticipates "decent volumes" on its Stark Crimson crop, she said. Its Bosc harvest should start around Aug. 1 and its harvest in Seckel, Comice, Forelle, French Butter and Taylors Gold variety pears all should start around Aug. 8-10.

The pipeline looks promising and "better than last year," Ms. Miller said. All State sells its pears throughout the United States, as well as to Canada, Mexico and Brazil.
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