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Revised February 2023.
Commercial pear production is concentrated in the Northwest United States. Total U.S. production in 2021 was 698,060 tons which was up 7 percent from 2020. The 2021 production was valued at $373 million which was up 12 percent from the previous year (NASS, 2022).
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 (Pennsylvania State University - Extension, 2016).
U.S. per capita consumption of fresh pears was 562,470 tons in 2021. Per capita consumption of processed pears was 135,590 pounds in 2021 (NASS, 2022).
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, 2021).
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 2020, Washington led the United States in pear production with 295,090 tons valued at $535 per ton. Oregon produced 258,230 tons valued at $518 per ton, and California produced 144,740 pounds valued at $565 per ton. (NASS, 2021).
During the 2021/ 2022 market year, the United States exported 244.3 million pounds of fresh pears valued at $148 million, and exported 6.2 million pounds of prepared/preserved pears valued at $3.9 million. The top two countries for fresh and prepared/preserved exported pears are Mexico and Canada (ERS, 2022).
The United States imported 156.1 million pounds of fresh pears in the 2021/2022 market year, valued at $108.6 million. The top three countries for fresh imported pears are Argentina, Chile, and China (ERS, 2022).
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:
- 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.
Fire Blight, University of California – Integrated Pest Management (UC-IPM), 2014.
Fruit and Tree Nut Data – Exports/Imports, Economic Research Service (ERS), USDA, 2021.
Hard cider and perry industry growing across the United States, Michigan State University – Extension, 2013
Noncitrus Fruits & Nuts, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), USDA, 2021.
Marketing and Production
- European and Asian Pears, University of California-Davis - This site links to other pear sites.
- 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.