US: Northwest pear season kicks off early, less production expected

Like many summer crops in Pacific Coast states, the pear season in the Pacific Northwest began earlier than usual. The alternating nature of the crop also means that this year's production will likely be less than what was harvested during last year's big season.

Pears from the Pacific Northwest are usually harvested from July through October, though picking began a little earlier than normal. But that head start wasn't huge, noted Cristie Mather, director of communications for Pear Burea Northwest, and the timing is in line with typical harvest timing. Production, however, is expected to be less than what was achieved last season.

“The dip in production is due to the natural cyclical nature of pear tree production,” explained Mather. “Crop yields alternate between larger crops and smaller crops each year. Last year was a larger crop year, so this year we can expect to see a smaller crop year. Next year we will be back into a larger crop yield.” Estimates put this year's fresh pear production at 18.7 million 44-pound equivalent boxes, or 411,400 tons. That's 13 percent smaller than last year's crop and six percent smaller than the five-year production average for the region.

Demand this season is expected to build on the upward trend established over the past few years in both the domestic market and the export market.

“The 2013-2014 season will be the second consecutive season that total Northwest pear exports have surpassed the $200 million mark,” noted Jeff Correa, international marketing director for Pear Bureau Northwest. “The 2013-14 season will near the record established last season, but will most likely end up being the second highest export value season for the industry.” With nearly 42 percent of exports going to Mexico, Correa predicted that about 4.0 million boxes will reach that market this season. Canada will likely come in second with 2.1 million boxes, and Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Colombia, Brazil, India and China round out the list of export destinations. The latter market is of particular note, considering it was only fairly recently that Northwest growers were able to ship pears there.

“Northwest pear shippers sent a few containers initially after the opening of the market in January 2013, and the 2013-14 season was the first full season for Northwest pear shipments to the market, with 184,840 boxes shipped to China – substantially higher than our initial expectations,” said Correa. “While we expected China to emerge as one of the industry’s top Red Pear markets, it also emerged as a better than expected market for the Green Anjou variety as well. China ended this past season as the industry’s sixth largest Green Anjou export market, the second-largest Red Anjou export market and top export market for Starkrimson pears.”

For more information:
Cristie Mather
Pear Bureau Northwest
+1 503 652 9720

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