Updated by: Gina Marzolo, graduate student of Agricultural Sciences, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, firstname.lastname@example.org, July 2015.
By Malinda Geisler, content specialist, Ag Marketing Resource Center, Iowa State University.
Commercial pear production is concentrated in the Northwest United States. Total U.S. production in 2014 was more than 1.6 billion pounds, down five percent from 2013 and was valued at $457.1 million - up six percent from the previous two years (NASS, 2015).
There are two types of pears: The European or French pears (Pyrus communis) including varieties such as, Bartlett, Bosc and D’Anjou, and Asian pears (Pyrus pyrifolia) with varieties such as, Hosui and Nijisseiki. Asian pears are also known as “apple-pears” because of their apple-like texture (University of Kentucky - Cooperative Extension, 2014)(Pennsylvania State University - Extension, 2015
U.S. per capita consumption of fresh pears was 3.22.8 pounds in 201309. Per capita consumption of all pear products was about 6.27 pounds in 201310 (ERS, 2014).
The marketing season for pears differs among the states they’re produced in and their varieties. For California, Oregon and Washington, the marketing season for Bartlett pears is from July to December. For other pears it is from July to June. In all other states the marketing season is from August to November (NASS, 2015).
Pear has a very sweet flavor, but is not overbearing, making it a great fruit to incorporate into processed foods such as, canned pears, baby food, glazes, vinaigrettes, and fruit bars. A way to add value to fresh pears could be starting a U-pick operation. Many consumers are concerned about where their produce comes from; therefore U-pick operations have the ability to make consumers feel more secure and connected to their food. Some very important factors to consider regarding U-pick operations are making sure the site is convenient and appealing to customers. Often U-pick operations will supply a farm stand with already picked product for people who do not have the time, ability or want to pick their own product (University of Tennessee – Extension, 2014).
Tapping into niche markets is another way value can be added to a product. In recent years apple ciders and alcoholic pear beverages (known as perry), have become more popular (Michigan State University - Extension, 2013).
There are six main states in the U.S. that produce pears: California, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington. Of these states, California, Oregon and Washington make up the majority of production.
In 2014, Washington led the United States in pear production with 832 million pounds valued at $233.8 million. Oregon produced 432 million pounds valued at $127.4 million, and California
Produced 378 million pounds valued at $88.6 million. From these three states 776 million pounds were Bartlett pears valued at $180.7 million (NASS, 2015).
During the 2013/ 2014 market year, the United States exported 449 million pounds of fresh pears valued at nearly $223.7 million, and exported 13.7 million pounds of prepared/preserved pears valued at $7.4 million. The largest market for fresh pears was Mexico, followed by Canada and Russia. The largest market for prepared/preserved pears was Canada followed by Mexico and the United Arab Emirates (ERS, 2015).
The United States imported 180.7 million pounds of fresh pears in the 2013/2014 market year, valued at more than $188.9 million. The top three countries for fresh imported pears are Argentina, South Korea, and Chile (ERS, 2015).
Pear trees are highly susceptible to a bacterial disease called Fire blight, caused by the bacterium Erwinia amylovora. There are some slightly tolerant varieties available. Fire blight is most likely to occur when temperatures of 75° to 85°F are followed by sporadic rain, however, proper management can lessen the disease from occurring. The tissue of fast growing trees is very sensitive, and thus activities such as heavy fertilization and excessive pruning should be avoided due to it promoting quicker growth. Irrigation during flower bloom should also be avoided, and monitoring and removal of fire blight infected areas should be done with diligence (UC IPM, 2011).
Helpful enterprise budgets for pears:
- 2010 Cost Estimates of Producing Bartlett Pears in the Yakima Valley, Washington, Washington State University - Extension, 2011.
- 2010 Cost Estimates of Producing Pears in North Central Washington, Washington State University - Extension, 2011.
- Establishing Pears: Current Costs and Return Studies, University of California-Davis, 2010 and 2012. Select “pears” in the commodity box. This site has estimated costs for establishing pears and specialty pears in California.
- Pears, Bartlett, Fresh Market, North Central Region of Oregon, Oregon State University - Extension, 2012.
A Farmers Guide to a Pick Your Own Operation, University of Tennessee – Extension, 2014.
Asian and European Pears, University of Kentucky - Cooperative Extension, 2014.
Asian or Oriental Pears, Pennsylvania State University - Extension, 2015.
Fire Blight, University of California – Integrated Pest Management (UC-IPM), 2014.
Fruit and Tree Nut Data – Exports/Imports, Economic Research Service (ERS), USDA, 2015.
Fruits and Tree Nuts – per capita consumption, Economic Research Service (ERS), USDA, 2014..
Hard cider and perry industry growing across the United States, Michigan State University – Extension, 2013
Noncitrus Fruits & Nuts, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), USDA, 2015.
Marketing and Production
- Gorge Delights - Adding Value to Pears, Ag Marketing Resource Center, 2004 - Profile of a company that processes fruit into fresh-cut slices and is making pear nutrition bars.
- Kiyokawa Family Orchards, Parkdale, Oregon - A family-owned and operated farm that has been growing produce since 1911. Currently the farm grows mainly apples and pears with over 80 different varieties. They have a U-pick orchard with an online ripeness calendar so you know exactly when to arrive for your favorite fruit.
- Stemilt Growers, LLC, Wenatchee, Washington - The Mathison family owns and operates Stemilt Growers and has been farming fruit since the early 1900s. They grow, pack, ship, and market fresh apples, pears, cherries, peaches, nectarines and apricots to stores worldwide.
(Click here for the most recent USDA Census of Agriculture – Organic Survey)
Links checked July 2015.