Warm April temperatures have pushed the California pear crop ahead of last year by a week to 10 days, creating additional retail opportunities, according to grower-shippers.
Courtesy Rivermaid TradingHaving three pears, such as these bartletts, set in one location is the sign of a good-sized crop, according to growers. “Retailers have a bonus period of 10-11 days over last year where they can offer new crop to shoppers,” said Dave Parker, a marketing advisor based in Rivermaid Trading Co.’s Dinuba, Calif., office.
Rivermaid Trading expects to start picking the Sunsprite variety from Sacramento River district orchards July 2-3, followed by bartletts July 5, he said.
If that proves true, it would be 11 days ahead of last year’s start and 17 days ahead of the 2011 start.
This year’s earlier harvest returns to a more traditional timeframe.
“Going back when I used to pack pears in Placer County (Calif.), traditionally the River would start between July 4-11,” Parker said.
In addition, it could benefit retailers, he said.
“They may still have pears from Argentina or wherever. But if they can get the fresh crop of California pears in their stores early, what that means is there’s an opportunity to capture some bonus money by announcing, ‘We have fresh California pears.’ It seems to give everybody an early jolt.”
Courtesy Rivermaid TradingSunsprite variety Rivermaid Trading plans to condition early pears from the River District with ethylene so they’ll ripen easily for consumers, Parker said.
Years ago, pears were considered a California summer fruit and were part of the now-defunct California Tree Fruit Agreement marketing order.
Parker said retailers could still take advantage of the synergy between stone fruit and pears, citing a study conducted by the tree fruit agreement.
“The overall category improved when pears joined the category,” he said. “I don’t know why, but it could be that pears are a ripened fruit. That’s a good message to convey that stone fruit and pears complement each other.”
Atomic Torosian, managing partner of Fresno, Calif.-based Crown Jewels Produce Co., which markets Courtland-based Greene & Hemly Inc.’s conventionally grown pears, said he expects the season to start a week to 10 days earlier than last year.
The two firms will have a preseason barbecue June 20 to evaluate the crop. But from everything he’s hearing, Torosian said the red starkrimson variety in the river district could start July 2-3, followed by bartletts July 7-8 and boscs in late July.