(May 30) California pear grower-shippers look forward to strong demand for a high-quality crop.

Carter Thomas LLC, Sacramento, Calif., expects to begin harvesting river district pears the second week of July, earlier than in the past two years but historically about right on time, said Mike Richards, partner. By the third week in July, the company should be shipping in volume.

Scully Packing Co. LLC, Finley, Calif., also expects to begin harvesting pears from the river district in the first half of July, said David Thiessen, sales manager. The company’s mountain deals will kick off in late July or early August, he predicted.

Crown Jewels Marketing & Distribution LLC, Fresno, Calif., expects to begin its bartlett river deal about July 6-8, said Atomic Torosian, partner. River reds will begin shipping earlier, about July 1, and boscs will follow about Aug. 1, he said.

The company’s mountain deal will begin the first week of August, Torosian predicted.

About 15% to 20% of the California pears Carter Thomas sells come from the river district, Richards said. The company’s much larger mountain district deals should begin about two weeks after the start of the river deal, with Mendocino County harvests starting in late July and Lake County about ten days later, Richards said.

Timely moisture contributed to excellent growing conditions so far this spring, he said.

“We got the rain we needed but at a time where it couldn’t do any damage,” he said. “It looks like a very clean crop, especially in the mountains.”

Sizing could be smaller this year, however, which could pose some marketing challenges for California grower-shippers, Richards said.

With the exception of a few isolated hailstorms, the weather has been good for pears this year in California, Thiessen said. Though acreage is about the same as last year, volumes should be up, he said. Size and quality also should be uniform, he predicted.

While developments in the Northwest could alter markets in the next month, based on what Richards has heard so far, the pipeline is looking clean for the California deal in July.

“I talked to a few importers this morning, and there are very few import pears around,” he said May 29. “That’s a good sign for us.”