Overview of organic pears from Washington in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on August 28, 2023.
This spring was a nearly optimal pear growing season in the Pacific Northwest, with moderate weather and not too many extremely hot days. As a result, the region is looking forward to a solid organic pear crop this season. “Average sizes might be just a bit smaller than normal, but overall crop volume looks very typical compared to the five-year average,” says Ben Johnson of Bridges Produce. “In addition, fruit quality is looking great.”
Bridges’ organic pear supply comes from the Hood River valley in Oregon and ranges from the banks of the Columbia River all the way up to the northeastern flank of Mt. Hood near Parkdale, Oregon. “The Hood River area is a perfect micro-climate for pears. It is protected from the damp weather on the west side by Mt. Hood, and yet does not have the extreme heat or cold of Eastern Washington because it is nestled in so close to the mountains,” said Johnson.
Small family farms
For their pear offering, Bridges Produce works with several small family farms. Harvest of the organic Starkrimson variety from Columbia Gorge started on August 14 and the first organic Bartlett pears were packed just last week. In addition, Red Bartletts are currently being harvested. “These are known as our summer pear varieties. In early September, we will start packing Asian pears, followed by our winter pear varieties in early October.” These include Comice, D’Anjou, Red D’Anjou, and Golden Bosc, as well as a limited supply of Forelles. Asian pears and winter pear varieties will be packed for several months.
In addition to Columbia Gorge, Bridges also works with a group of small-scale Hood River producers to combine their volumes, which are then consolidated and packed at Diamond Fruit in Hood River. “We will have our first pack at Diamand Fruit following Labor Day and will begin shipping from there as well. Packing in one central location allows us to represent these amazing small family farms while providing our customers with high quality and professionally packed fruit from one place,” said Johnson. Fruit from Diamond Fruit is packed into the Bridges label while fruit from Columbia Gorge Organics is packed into their own label.
While the growing conditions were optimal and things are looking bright for this upcoming pear season, Johnson remains cautiously optimistic. “If we can get through the next few weeks without some extreme weather, we will be in great shape,” he shared. “Last year’s crop was small because we had a very unusual snow event during the bloom, which reduced pollination significantly. Fortunately, the weather was much better this season,” he concluded.
The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.
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