Each year harvest of pears in California's River District marks the fresh start of a new pear season. This year, the nation's fresh pear season is expected to begin in mid July with volume anticipated beginning July 25, what one grower called "the latest season ever." At a recent meeting of the California Pear Advisory Board, a pre-season crop estimate of just over 4.1 million 36-pound box equivalents of pears was set by the voting members of the Board.
According to the Board, which is represented by growers and shippers from all California pear growing districts, the majority of the crop, 3.2 million boxes, is expected to come from the leading California pear variety, the Bartlett, with the River District accounting for 1.9 million boxes, the Lake District expecting 950,000 boxes and Mendocino District predicting 350,000. Start dates for the later districts are in mid-August.
This year's estimate is a bit higher than last year's California pear crop which came in at 3.6 million boxes, but is below the 2009 crop year when nearly 4.7 million boxes were packed and shipped. This year's total includes other pear varieties in addition to the Bartlett now represented by the California Pear Advisory Board. Bosc varieties, which include the Bosc and Golden Russet Bosc, make up the second leading California variety and combined, are expected to produce their largest crop on record at 700,000 boxes. Other varietal estimates include Starkcrimson at 85,000 boxes, Seckel at 34,000; Comice at 24,000; Sunsprites, 18,000; French Butter, 10,000; Forelle, 4,000 and other red varieties at 16,000 boxes. The California pear industry is also expecting to produce 64,500 boxes of organic pears.
"As we do every year, the California pear board is looking forward to a good marketing season," says Chris Zanobini, President of the California Pear Advisory Board. "We have a nice crop of pears on the trees and with warm weather and excellent growing techniques California is poised to have a great pear season."
Zanobini notes that just as the fresh start to pear season begins in California, the 2011 season marks a "fresh start" for the California Pear Advisory Board.
"With a clear focus on how it can best serve the needs of its members, customers and consumers, the California Pear Advisory Board recently underwent a restructuring," says Zanobini noting that the result is a "new" California Pear Board.
"As it always has, the Pear Board will continue to conduct production research and build on the industry's efforts to foster environmentally-sound farming practices," says Zanobini. "The Board will also provide marketing and category management research and will maintain its consumer education activities and public relations programs. This means that projects like the "Pears Care" breast cancer awareness campaign begun last year in conjunction with Susan G. Komen for the Cure will continue to be funded and supported."
However, Zanobini explained that the Pear Board will no longer employ a merchandising staff or directly fund in-store retail features. "This job will be left to the marketing professionals within the industry primarily because they are best suited for this activity," Zanobini explains, noting that behind the scenes individual pear shippers and their customers will have the resources and support of the California Pear Advisory Board at their disposal.
The new California Pear Board will also take up the issue of sustainability in the coming months.
"An assessment of our pear farms has verified a very high percentage have adopted innovative and environmentally-friendly farming practices," say Zanobini. "In fact, we have a wonderful story to tell about our efforts to achieve sustainability that is important for our customers to know."
In fact, Zanobini concludes that "sustainable" is a word that perfectly describes the California pear industry.