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Northwest pear growers forecast larger crop than originally expected

With harvest currently underway, representatives of the Northwest pear industry have officially updated their initial projections for the 2014 fresh pear crop yield.

Reports of a crop of excellent quality have been confirmed from all corners of the pear-growing regions in Washington and Oregon, and the updated projection is showing a crop larger than previously forecast in the spring.

The revised estimate points to more than 20.2 million standard 44-pound box equivalents (or 445,144 tons) of pears for the fresh market. This estimate is 2 percent larger than the five-year average, and 6 percent smaller than last year's record crop. The Northwest pear industry's initial spring projection showed a crop of 18.7 million boxes.

Harvest began in late July with the Starkrimson and Bartlett pear varieties. Anjou, Red Anjou, Bosc, Comice, Concorde, Forelle and Seckel will be picked from late August through mid-October. No significant weather issues have affected the crop to date.

The top three varieties in terms of production remain the same as in previous years: Green Anjou pears are anticipated to make up 53 percent of the total 2014 crop, while Bartlett and Bosc pears are expected to yield 22 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

The updated estimates for the organic portion of the Northwest pear crop have increased proportionally, showing a total of 976,780 standard 44-pound box equivalents (21,489 tons) of organic pears in the 2014 harvest. This is an increase of about 3 percent when compared to the 2013 record organic crop, and a 16.6 percent increase over the five-year average.

"Compared to last year's record crop, this crop is more consistent with the five-year average," Kevin Moffitt, president and chief executive officer of the Pear Bureau Northwest, said in a press release. "We're looking forward to another crop of excellent quality and fruit size to meet the demands of the domestic and export markets. Our representatives across North America and around the world have a full season of promotions in place to help boost sales, and we're looking forward to working with our retail partners in another successful pear season."