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Some of the giveaway items available at the Interpera Congress meeting in Wenatche, Washington — license plate frames, a wine-cheese-pear combination guide and padded pear cozies. <b>(Ross Courtney/Good Fruit Grower)</b>

Some of the giveaway items available at the Interpera Congress meeting in Wenatchee, Washington — license plate frames, a wine-cheese-pear combination guide and padded pear cozies. (Ross Courtney/Good Fruit Grower)

About 150 people attended the first day of Interpera 2017, this year’s World Pear Congress meeting, Thursday, June 15, 2017, in Wenatchee.

Speakers painted a picture of a global pear industry a bit mired in inertia, producing some of same varieties first cultivated in the 1600s and using old-fashioned, wide-canopy orchard structures. But it’s a picture researchers and industry leaders are trying to change.

Topics for the morning included the search for new rootstocks and new varieties, two-dimensional orchard management systems that lend themselves to automation and integrated pest management strategies in an era where pesticide resistance is becoming a bigger problem.

“Breeding pears is harder than apples,” said Lester Brewer, breeder and project manager for Plant and Food Research New Zealand.

This is the 10th year for Interpera but the first time it has been held in the U.S.