Orchardists in Washington and Oregon expect to harvest 20.5 million boxes of fresh pears this fall. That’s just 2 percent below last season’s crop and 2 percent above the five-year average.

Harvest of Bartlett pears should begin in early August in Washington and the Mid-Columbia district, about a week ahead of last year, according to figures presented during the annual meeting of the Pear Bureau Northwest in Portland, Oregon, this week.

Two years ago, growers harvested a record 21.6 million boxes of fresh pears. Kevin Moffitt, Pear Bureau president. said this is the first time in 15 years that the crop has dropped in two successive seasons. Typically, volumes go up one year and down the next.

Pears in Parker

Pears growing near Parker, Washington, in a photo taken June 2014.  Growers in 2015 expect a slightly smaller crop than the previous year. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)

Northwest pear production has been stable and manageable in recent years, resulting in good returns for growers, Moffitt said. “I see this year’s crop continuing that trend.”

The total winter pear crop (primarily the d’Anjou, Bosc, and Comice varieties) is forecast at 15.6 million boxes. Washington’s Wenatchee district is forecasting a winter pear crop of 7 million boxes this year, a similar volume to last year. There should be slightly more d’Anjou pears this year but fewer Bosc and Comice.

The Mid-Columbia region is forecasting 6.1 million boxes of winter pears, also similar to last year’s crop. The Yakima district should be up slightly to 1.7 million boxes, and Medford, Oregon, should have almost 740,000 boxes of winter pears, a slight increase from a year ago.

The summer/fall pear crop (primarily Bartlett) is estimated at 4.8 million boxes, down from 5.1 million a year ago. Almost half the fresh Bartletts are produced in the Wenatchee district. The Mid-Columbia district should have about 1.5 million boxes.