(Dec.26) L&M Cos. Inc., Raleigh, N.C., has a new marketing agreement with fruit grower-packer Congdon Orchards Inc., Yakima, Wash.

The contract took effect in mid-August, said Keith Mathews, L&M’s director of grower development.

Congdon packs apples and cherries, but it is best known for pears, Mathews said.

The agreement should increase the volume and variety of pears that L&M markets.

Mathews expects Congdon to pack about 400,000 cases of pears this season, which is less than its normal volume of about 500,000 cases, he said. Total Northwest pear volumes were lower this year because of July hailstorms.

Mathews said Congdon packs about 500,000 cases of apples annually, including fuji, gala, granny smith, red delicious and cripps pink varieties.

L&M also packs some club varieties of apples, but it does not have a contract to market those, Mathews said. Other companies control the growing and marketing of the newest club varieties.

The agreement should add to L&M’s cherry volume. The orchard is expected to pack about 350,000 packages of dark sweet, rainier and organic cherries next season, Mathews said.

Congdon already packs organic cherries and pears for L&M, he said.

Mathews said Congdon Orchards was started in the early 1900s by Chester Congdon and that the company is managed by the fifth generation of Congdons.