(June 5) California’s bartlett pear deal, which represents 90% of the state’s production, should get off to a good start the first week of July, said Chris Zanobini, executive director of the Sacramento-based California Pear Advisory Board.

“Washington has over a million boxes (remaining), but I don’t see it being a big problem in time for early season sales.,” he said.

Zanobini estimates this year’s crop to reach 4.3 million 36-pound tight-fill cartons. That compares with 3.8 million cartons last year, when hail and frost hurt some orchards in the Lake and Mendocino districts. The estimate is more in line with the 4.4 million cartons seen in 2000.

“From a quality standpoint, the crop is very clean,” Zanobini said.

In early June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported f.o.b.s for 40-pound cartons of Chilean packham triumphs through Los Angeles/Long Beach, Calif., at $17-19 for 70-80 size, $14-16 for 90 size, $14 for 100 size and $12-14 for 110 size. Anjous from the Washington’s Yakima Valley and Wenatchee district ranged from $13-14 for 70-110s to $12-13 for 135s.

Last year at this time, Argentine packham triumphs were $20-22 for 60-70s and $18-20 for 80s.

Chris Frieders, general manager at Joe Green Ranch, Courtland, Calif., agreed. , saying a recent hailstorm spared his lot. “The storm skirted around our district,” Frieders said, referring to the Sacramento-San Joaquin region, the state’s expected top production area. “Last year, there were 20,000 tons affected. This year, zero acres are affected.’

This year’s production is increasing despite the elimination of 700-900 acres — most of which were inefficient anyway — and a noticeable downturn in the processed market, Zanobini said.

“Our ability to produce hasn’t changed, but we are dealing now with only top quality production,” he said.

The California deal should hit its stride around July 15 when the Sacramento-San Joaquin district is in heavy production, said David Thiessen, sales manager in the Medford, Ore., office of Finley, Calif-based Scully Packing Co. LLC.. That’s when Lake County, and its expected 1.6 million cartons, comes online. The deal should peak in August