At the recent annual Pear Bureau Northwest (PBNW) meeting, Northwest pear growers compiled the first official 2017-18 fresh pear crop estimate for Washington and Oregon: 2% less than 2016 harvest and 10% less than the five-year average.
Pear growers and producers from Washington’s Wenatchee and Yakima districts and Oregon’s Mid-Columbia and Medford districts estimated the fresh pear harvest at 17.6 million standard box equivalents, or 390,000 tons of fresh pears.
“Growers are reporting an excellent quality of pear crop on the trees, albeit a bit shorter crop than last season,” stated Kevin Moffitt, president and CEO of Pear Bureau Northwest (PBNW) the marketing organization representing USA Pears. “At nearly 18 million boxes, we expect a high-quality crop in promotable numbers.”
Harvest is expected close to historical average pick dates, which is later than the last two seasons. ‘Starkrimson’ is expected in early August with Bartlett harvest expected in late August. ‘Anjou,’ ‘Bosc,’ and ‘Comice’ will be harvested beginning in September through early October. ‘Concorde,’ ‘Forelle,’ and ‘Seckel’ will be picked in September and October, across the four growing districts.
The estimates for leading varieties include 8.9 million standard boxes for ‘Green Anjou,’ about 51% of total Northwest fresh pear crop, 4.4 million standard boxes of ‘Bartlett’ (25% of the total crop), and 2.2 million ‘Bosc’ (13% of the total crop.) ‘Red Anjou’ will represent 6% of the crop with a potential 1.1 million standard boxes.
‘Green Anjou’ pears are showing a projected crop increase of 7% compared with a smaller crop in 2016. Growers estimate that the ‘Bartlett’ pear crop will be down 4% compared with last season, which is a mere 2% drop off of a five-year average. The ‘Bosc’ pear crop is estimated to be well short of average, while ‘Red Anjou’ production is expected to be 10% higher than last year and 6% above the five-year average.
The organic pear estimate came in at 1.12 million standard boxes (25,000 metric tons), 6.4% of the total Northwest crop. This number is lower than 2016 season by 5.5%, but shows a 10.5% growth over the five-year average for the Northwest. The organic ‘Green Anjou’ crop is expected to be 470,000 standard boxes, while the ‘Bartlett’ and ‘Bosc’ crop sizes are estimated at 377,800 and 123,200 standard boxes, respectively.
“Promotion plans for the new season are in place and PBNW regional marketing managers have begun calling on retailers across the U.S. and Canada, analyzing data and developing programs to optimize the retailers’ pear category,” states Moffitt. Display and promotion opportunities will begin in the fall with early season programs, leading to promotion support all season long.
Across the U.S. and Canada, PBNW consumer outreach will focus on the undeniable health benefits of eating pears and the delicious versatility of ripe, sweet, juicy pears from Washington and Oregon. Pears have the most fiber per serving of the leading 20 fruits by sales in the produce department, and the importance of fiber on gut health, heart health, and weight maintenance will top PBNW discussions with consumers and nutrition influencers in 2017-18.