Fragrant pears produce sweet returns
There are 23,333 hectares (57,500 acres) of fragrant pears in Korla City in China’s northwestern province of Xinjiang, according to an article on People’s Daily Online. Total production averages between 100,000 and 120,000 tons.
In comparison, Washington State and Oregon have 43,700 acres of bearing pear orchard producing about 600,000 tons of pears of all varieties, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics.
China’s fragrant pears are sold in major Chinese cities and are exported to North America and Southeast Asia.
The People’s Daily Online article features farmer Turde Ahbar, who has a half-hectare (1 acre) orchard in Korla. When he bought the 70-year-old orchard in 1986, the trees were plagued by pests and produced low yields. The article describes how Ahbar rejuvenated his old pear trees by cutting the branches back to the trunk. Now, a pear tree can yield 80 to 200 kilos (176 to 440 pounds) of fruit. His technique has been adopted for younger trees and he received a municipal award for technological progress, the article states.
Gross earnings from Ahbar’s one-acre orchard are reported to average U.S.$5,548. His net income, after deducting the costs of watering, fertilizing, pesticide spraying, branch cutting, and employing helpers, is U.S.$3,699, up from only U.S.$500 to U.S.$600 in the 1980s.
The article quotes Li Shiqiang, head of the Korla Research Center of Fragrant Pears, who says that many farmers in Korla are making a good living by growing pears. Some farmers are said to have as much as 13.3 hectares (33 acres) of orchard and earn a million yuan (more than U.S.$123,000) a year.