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Northwest pear crop is trending downward for 2010-11

by Lora Abcarian | August 29, 2010
Estimates released by the Pear Bureau Northwest Aug. 6 indicated that the overall pear crop from the Pacific Northwest is expected to be down approximately 11 percent for the 2010-11 season. In all, a total of 17,926,920 standard boxes of conventional and organic pears are expected to be produced during the crop year.

"We had a cool spring which extended the frost season and, in some cases, shortened the pollination season as the bees do not get active until the temperatures get warm," said Kevin Moffitt, president and chief executive officer. “There was some limited hail but not much more than normal.”

According to Mr. Moffitt, there are 1,600 fresh pear growers in Oregon and Washington, a number that is on par with 2009 statistics.

Mr. Moffitt was asked about the status of pear production for 2010. “The harvest started on the Starkrimson and Bartletts in mid-August,” he told The Produce News Aug. 17. “Anjou and Bosc [will] start in the first weeks of September. All in all, the crop is a week to 10 days later than last year.”

He said 2009 was a record year for production, and crop quality was very good. Looking at this year, Mr. Moffitt said it is somewhat early to determine pear sizing and quality. “Based on fruit size to date, the crop could come in with slightly smaller-sized fruit this year, perhaps peaking on 90s, one size down from last year,” he said. “The quality may not be as clean as last year but should be about normal. Last year was a very clean crop in terms of quality. So there will generally be sizes and quanities to meet the needs of both the domestic and export markets.”

He went on to say, “After last year's record crop production, the trees are taking a rest so we are expecting a crop that is about 2 percent lower than the five-year average.”

On June 30, estimates for the 2010-11 fresh organic pear crop were released. Overall organic volume was estimated at 799,565 boxes, up 1 percent from 2009-10. The total for Northwest organic summer and fall pears was estimated to be 264,315 boxes, up 5 percent from last season. A breakdown by variety shows the following: Green Bartlett: 206,875, up 1 percent; Red Bartlett: 15,300, down 3 percent; Starkrimson and other summer/fall pears: 42,140, up 34 percent.

The total for Northwest organic winter pears was estimated at 535,250, down 1 percent from last season. A breakdown by variety shows the following: Anjou: 350,000 boxes, down 2 percent; Bosc: 136,600 boxes, down 1 percent; Red Anjou: 38,200, up 15 percent; Comice: 4,150 boxes, down 32 percent; Seckel, 200 boxes, down 30 percent; and Concorde: 6,100 boxes, no change. Decreases in overall pear volume for 2010-11 are global in nature. “The world supply of pears is expected to be down this year,” Mr. Moffitt stated. “Not only are the U.S. supplies down, the European Union is expecting its smallest pear crop in a decade, down 19 percent from last year and 12 percent off a three- year average. Other major pear-producing countries are also down, including Turkey, down by 5 percent; and the Ukraine, down by 35 percent. Even Chinese production is expected to be flat or possibly down versus last year. It could turn out to be a good year for pear growers around the world this season.”

(For more on Northwest pears, see the Aug. 30, 2010, issue of The Produce News.)