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Northwest pear growers expect to harvest 18.9 million 44-pound box equivalents in 2016 for the fresh market, according to an Aug. 1 industry estimate.

Longtime Duckwall Fruit employee, Topi Cervantes, speeds through wrapping and packing bartlett pears for fresh market sale at the company’s Odell, Oregon facility on August 21, 2014. Quick packers like Cervantes pack between 40,000 and 50,000 boxes in a season working on the Duckwall line. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)

File photo of pear packing. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)

If the figure holds, that would mean a 3-percent increase over the 2015 crop but still fall about 6 percent short of the 20.2 million box 5-year average.

Harvest began at the very end of July and will continue through late October.

The forecast also marks a slight increase — less than 1 percent — over a similar estimate made in June, due to fruit developing larger and more fresh-market quality Bartletts than first anticipated, said Kevin Moffitt, president and CEO of the Pear Bureau Northwest, a Portland, Oregon, based management agency that represents growers in Washington and Oregon.

Winter varieties are expected to lead the way with 14 million boxes, 9.6 million of them Anjous. Green Bartletts will lead the summer/fall category with 4.5 million boxes.Pear-Estimates-Rvsd-August-2016

On average, fresh market pears make up about 78 percent of the Northwest’s overall crop.