Bartlett is still the most popular pear variety being planted in Washington, but sales of d’Anjou nursery trees have picked up in recent years, a nursery survey shows.
Lindsay Buckner, senior vice president for field services at Tree Top, Inc., published results of his nursery survey this spring. Bartlett accounted for 30 percent of pear trees sold for planting in 2007. Although many of the trees are for replacements or interplants, new blocks have been planted in the Yakima district, he reports. The Bartlett market has been strong over the past few years, resulting in good returns. A decline in California production also has been a positive trend for Pacific Northwest growers.
Red Bartlett has shown a resurgence over the past few years and accounts for 5 percent of nursery trees budded for sale next spring. Although Red Bartlett is difficult to produce, fresh-market demand has been strong and retail prices good. Plantings of Red d’Anjou have declined in recent years.
Bosc is the second-most popular variety in terms of plantings, accounting for 24 percent of trees budded for sale next year. The variety has generated good returns for growers, and some new Bosc blocks have been planted in north central Washington, Buckner reported. The shift to russeted strains continues.
D’Anjou plantings are also on the increase after a decline in the early 2000s. More than 12 percent of the pear trees budded for sale next spring are d’Anjou. Most trees are being used as replacements for existing orchards. The pear industry’s preconditioning program has stimulated fresh demand, strengthening movement and grower returns, Buckner reported.
Concorde is the fourth most popular variety for planting next season, accounting for 6 percent of budded trees. The variety is popular in Europe and appears to be gaining greater acceptance in the United States.
Sales of other varieties, a category that includes Comice, Red Clapp Favorite, Seckel, Cascade, Conference, Forelle, Packham’s Triumph, and Taylor’s Gold, have declined to 16 percent of the total plantings for 2008 from a peak of 29 percent in 2002.
Overall, pear tree sales have been increasing over the past few years from a low of 185,000 trees in 2003. The nurseries surveyed expect to sell 269,000 pear trees for planting next spring.