FRESNO, Calif. — Though volumes for California pears should drop this fall, growers are seeing high quality in the early varieties already available.

Dan Spain, vice president of sales and marketing for Kingsburg Orchards, Kingsburg, said a new Asian pear variety for the company — crunchy gold — is already sold out.

About 250,000 cartons of the Asian pears will be available this season, Spain said, and represents a small portion of the 2.5 million cartons the company will ship this year.

“The quality is outstanding,” Spain said, attributing it mostly to the trellis system the company uses for its Asian pears.
According to the California Pear Advisory Board, Sacramento, harvesting for most California pear crops began around July 15. Peak harvest for bartlett pears came at the end of July, though volumes are expected to be down for all varieties coming out of California this year.

Chris Zanobini, executive director of the Pear Advisory Board, said golden russet and bosc harvesting will start in September and nearly all of the state’s varieties will be shipping to retail by fall. Zanobini said pears will be continue to ship until the end of the year as the fruit ripens in storage, because many varieties cannot properly ripen on the tree.
“The weather’s been great and quality is exceptional,” Zanobini said

Bartletts are the California largest variety by volume with 205,000 tons produced last year, Zanobini said. This year, overall volume should be 202,000 tons with bartletts comprising close to 94% of that, Zanobini said.

Wayne Brandt, president of Brandt Farms Inc., Reedley, said harvesting of the Asian pears marketed by Brand Farms will be mostly during October and November.

“Growers are reporting a little bit less fruit set, which means that we’ll have bigger size,” Brandt said. “We’re thinking the volume will be about the same as last year, but the fruit will be larger.”

Brandt Farms will have promotable supplies of Asian pears from the start of harvest into March.

Steve Johnson, marketing director of Johnson Orchards Inc., Ukiah, said bartlett harvesting still starts in the mountain district the first week of September. Johnson said bartletts are a large crop for growers in his region, many of whom will continue to sell the pears after harvesting ends in late September.

“I think quality should be nice,” Johnson said.