Fresh-Picked California Pears Have Arrived!
California pear harvest has officially begun. America’s first pears are being handpicked by farmers and their crew along the Sacramento River Delta. This means that we can look forward to eating fresh-picked pears grown by local family farmers once again!
Summer is a unique time for pears in this country. The only freshly-harvested pears available in mid-summer are grown in Northern California. Up till now, pears on store shelves have been stored since last year’s harvest or are being shipped long distance from other countries.
Because California pears are the first to harvest in the U.S., our pears are known as America’s first pear! Also, California pears have a rich history as one of the first tree fruits planted and sold commercially in the nation.
Today, California pears are grown by fourth and fifth-generation families who are farming the same land their grandparents and great-grandparents did during the California Gold Rush. Some 60 farming families continue to produce pears in California on orchards that can be over 100 years old. The California Bartlett pear is a true heirloom variety and we want consumers to enjoy the rich history of our farming community as much as they enjoy our pears.
This year’s California pear crop is excellent in quality and there will be more than last year. By the end of their season, California pear growers predict they will harvest over 115,000 tons of pears for use in canning and for the fresh market. When it comes to fresh market pears, California farmers will pack over 2 million 36-pound boxes.
While this may seem like a lot, pear farmers in Washington and Oregon will harvest 10 times that amount – so many that they will need to keep a lot of them in what is called controlled atmosphere storage or use chemical treatments to extend their shelf life.
California growers believe in harvesting and marketing pears the traditional way which means we offer a fresh pear throughout the entire season that has never been treated with shelf life-extending chemicals.
California pears are hand-picked, placed into bins and brought to packing houses where they are put in boxes or shipped to a cannery. Bartlett pears are picked green and will become softer, sweeter and more yellow after they are picked. To ensure the best quality, California growers will hand-select the largest fruit first and will pick each tree more than once as the fruit continues to grow larger in size.
In addition to 2 million-plus boxes of Bartlett pears, California pear growers will harvest another 500,000 boxes of other heirloom varieties including Golden Bosc, Sunsprite, Starkcrimson, Red pears, Comice, Seckel and French Butter along with a limited supply of organic varieties. (Click here for more information on pear varieties.)
Summer really is the best time to enjoy pears from California that are at their peak flavor and freshness. You can find California pears in grocery stores throughout the U.S. and Canada from July through December.