Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, September 11, 2015, Page 7, Image 7

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    September 11, 2015
Retired couple returns to pears as harvest shifts into high gear
Smaller fruit, more
cullage seen
because of
hot weather
Smaller California
pear crop helps PNW
Capital Press
Capital Press
DRYDEN, Wash. — For
about 20 years, Evelyn Arnold
was Chelan County auditor
overseeing county finances,
elections, licensing and doc-
ument recording at the court-
house in Wenatchee. Now
she’s taking part in the annual
pear harvest as it kicks into
high gear in Central Washing-
ton state.
After her stint with the
county, she spent five years as
financial services manager for
the Secretary of State’s office
in Olympia and superintendent
of elections for King County
while her husband, Randy, fin-
ished out 45 years as a conduc-
tor and brakeman for BNSF
Railway in Western Washing-
Newly retired, they’re now
helping their nephew, Aar-
on Hargrove, run their pear
orchard south of the small
Wenatchee Valley town of
Dryden. Randy’s father, Arlee
Arnold, an “Arkie” migrant
picker, bought the first five
acres years ago.
A certified public accoun-
tant, Evelyn was sorting bin
tickets along with doing or-
chard payroll and accounts
payable. She fixed breakfast
for the 9:30 a.m. break for
their 20-some pickers, a bo-
nus that helps ensure enough
Dan Wheat/Capital Press
Evelyn and Randy Arnold level d’Anjou pears in a bin ready to go to the warehouse from their orchard
near Dryden, Wash., on Sept. 4. Pears are smaller and cullage is up in the Wenatchee Valley of Wash-
ington state from prolonged heat in June.
pickers in an era of shortages.
It’s all different work for
Evelyn, but she’s getting the
hang of it.
“At this point, it still seems
it would be easier to work for
someone else because working
for yourself you tend to get dis-
tracted with grandkids and all
of that,” she said. They have 10,
eight close by.
The Arnolds and other pear
growers in the Wenatchee Val-
ley are in the midst of harvest
and dealing with smaller fruit
and more cullage because of
prolonged excessive heat in
The valley, from Wenatchee
23 miles up river to Leaven-
worth, is the heart of the na-
tion’s pear production. The
Wenatchee district, the north-
ern half of Central Washington,
produces more than 9 million,
44-pound boxes of pears annu-
ally with most of that coming
from the Wenatchee Valley.
Growers have coped with
less water this season because
of drought, but the bigger is-
sue, several say, is fruit size
and cork, dimples that cause
decay, from too much heat ear-
ly on.
The crop is about one size
smaller, on average, than nor-
mal, which equates to 10 per-
cent less volume than the May
28 estimate, said Randy Smith,
a Cashmere grower.
Jim Koempel, a grower and
neighbor of the Arnolds, said
the crop may be down 10 to 15
“There’s more cork and
sunburn this year than normal,
considerably more,” he said.
“Labor is adequate but not ex-
cessive. Most people would
like two to three more people
on their crews.”
The Pear Bureau North-
west, in Portland, forecast the
Northwest crop at 20.4 million
boxes on May 28. It revised the
forecast to 19.9 million boxes
on Aug. 18, still the fifth largest
crop on record. It’s 4 percent
less than 2014 but just 1 percent
less than the five-year average.
The record is 21.6 million in
The Wenatchee district fore-
cast was revised downward
from 9.4 million to 9.24 million
The next district in volume,
Yakima, is forecast down 12
percent, the Mid-Columbia
(Hood River, Ore.) is down 7
percent and the smallest in vol-
A smaller California
pear crop — combined
with smaller stone fruit and
apple harvests there this
year — bode well for Pa-
cific Northwest pear sales,
says Kevin Moffitt, pres-
ident of The Pear Bureau
Northwest in Portland.
That means shipments
of the Pacific Northwest
crop, estimated at 19.9
million, 44-pound-boxes,
should increase quickly in
September, Moffitt said.
Sales will be pushed by
bureau promotions empha-
sizing back-to-school and
snacking to help move the
larger inventory of smaller
fruit expected, he said.
In-store sampling will
help build demand early
in the season to drive mo-
ume, Medford, is up 16 percent.
“All districts are expecting
sizes to be down one to two siz-
es due to heat and some hail,”
said Kevin Moffitt, bureau
Cork will contribute to pre-
mium, No. 1 grade, being just
83 to 86 percent of the crop,
he said. Normally, it’s higher.
“Much of the fancy (lesser)
grade will go export and there
will be plenty of No. 1 grade
this season,” he said.
mentum for the year, he
California harvested
2.77 million, 36-pound
boxes of fresh-crop
pears this season and had
shipped 1.5 million as of
Aug. 26. Some 1.23 mil-
lion, or 45 percent, re-
mained, according to the
California Pear Advisory
Board in Sacramento.
Of the total, 2.1 mil-
lion boxes were Bartlett
from the Sacramento Del-
ta, Lake County and Men-
docino districts.
California fresh pear
crops have been dimin-
ishing in recent years be-
cause of declining acre-
age and canners paying
more to increase their
volume. The fresh-crop
high of the last 7 years
was 4.69 million boxes
in 2009.
D’Anjou harvest will wrap
up in a few weeks. Bartlett is
done and with good quality.
It is 8.71 percent (397,624
boxes) shipped as of Aug. 28
compared with 8.18 percent
(418,258 boxes) a year ago,
Moffitt said. There’s 4.2 mil-
lion boxes of Bartlett left to
ship versus 4.7 million last
Pear wholesale prices have
held much better than apple
prices in the past year.
Washington governor leads Almond growers finishing
trade trip to Japan, S. Korea harvest of slightly smaller crop
Capital Press
For the Capital Press
TOKYO — Washington
Gov. Jay Inslee surprised pa-
trons at an outlet of a Hawai-
ian-style fast food restaurant
chain in the Japanese capital
on Sept. 4.
Customers were quietly
eating their meal when Lamb
Weston Asia Marketing Man-
ager Keiji Yumoto announced
the governor’s presence.
“The Washington state
governor!” exclaimed several
customers, who rushed to take
a picture of Inslee with their
camera or cell phone.
Inslee handed out a compli-
mentary order of french fries
to each customer. Kua’Aina
Japan, which has 23 outlets,
uses Washington frozen pota-
toes exclusively.
Inslee’s public relations
effort was part of a visit he
led of a 95-member Washing-
ton trade mission, including
about 15 representatives of
the state’s agribusiness sector,
here Sept. 2-5.
The group made a similar
visit to South Korea Aug. 31
to Sept. 1.
Part of the potato industry
representatives’ purpose for
coming here was to talk with
end users of the Washington
product and explain the hur-
dles exporters faced with the
months-long West Coast port
slowdown earlier this year,
said Matt Harris, Washington
State Potato Commission as-
Washington State Department of Agriculture
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee serves Washington french fries to
patrons at a Kua’Aina Japan outlet in Tokyo Friday Sept. 4.
sistant executive director and
director of governmental af-
Washington exported $200
million of frozen processed
potatoes to Japan last year, but
because of the slowdown, the
industry lost an estimated $50
million of business opportunity,
Harris said.
Because of a nematode is-
sue, Japan restricts its imports
of U.S. potatoes to frozen prod-
ucts, with the exception of fresh
product in sealed containers,
and only for chipping purpos-
es from Washington and some
other states during the Febru-
ary-July Japan potato off-sea-
Although potatoes got a
big emphasis, other products
received a push, state Director
of Agriculture Derek Sandison
The state government is try-
ing to get Washington’s fresh
blueberries and potatoes into
the countries the team visited,
Sandison said.
“There has to be a decision
by the Japanese and South Ko-
rean governments,” he said.
Washington state is also pro-
moting confectionery products,
and trying to increase onion
shipments, said Joseph Bippert,
the Department of Agriculture
Commodity Inspection Divi-
sion’s international marketing
“We (also) want to increase
exports of our craft beers,” Bi-
ppert said.
On the confectionery side,
Seattle Popcorn will on Sept.
14 send a popcorn shipment to
an 80-outlet retail customer, its
first venture into either Japan or
South Korea, company presi-
dent Jesse Greene said.
“We met with multiple dis-
tributors and retailers, educating
them about the popcorn market
in the U.S. and what we foresee
for Japan,” Greene said.
GERBER, Calif. — Al-
mond growers in California are
wrapping up one of the earliest
harvests in memory as yields
have come in ever-so-slightly
lighter than last year’s crop.
The shaking and sweep-
ing in the Tehama County or-
chards owned by brothers Kev-
in and Eric Borror are about
three-quarters done as their har-
vest began on Aug. 15.
“We are running right about
the same as last year,” Kevin
Borror said. “Some fields are
up and some are down, but on
average we’re right about the
same. … Our quality has been
good. There have been some
bad stories about worm dam-
age here and there, but ours has
been our normal good quality.”
Statewide, yields have been
slightly lighter, said Robert
Curtis, the Almond Board of
California’s director of agricul-
tural affairs. Yields are on pace
to meet the National Agricul-
tural Statistics Service projec-
tion of 1.8 billion meat pounds,
down 3 percent from its May
forecast and 4 percent from
last year’s crop. In all, 2 billion
Tim Hearden/Capital Press
Kevin Davies operates a
tractor with a sweeper that
picks up almonds as a bankout
driver follows. The harvest was
proceeding Sept. 4 at Tehama
Angus Ranch in Gerber, Calif.
meat pounds were harvested in
“With the good weather, the
harvest is progressing well with
no real issues,” Curtis said in an
While the Borrors’ wells
have been holding up, the
continued stress on trees be-
cause of the ongoing drought
is blamed for the overall de-
cline in tonnage. Mike Ma-
son, a grower and processor
who chairs the almond board,
said earlier this summer that
farmers are “doing everything
within their power to conserve
The board expects nuts to
be harvested from 890,000
bearing acres statewide, up
slightly from the historic
high of 880,000 bearing acres
forecast by NASS last year.
However, the average nut set
per tree was 5,874, down 12
percent from the 2014 crop,
and the average kernel weight
for all varieties sampled was
1.43 grams, down 1 percent
from the 2014 average of 1.45
grams, according to the board.
Navel orangeworm has
also been an issue for some
growers, said Dani Lightle, a
University of California Coop-
erative Extension crop adviser
in Glenn County. The worm’s
larvae feeds on nuts.
Warm weather during the
spring and summer helped
accelerate the crop’s develop-
ment, and water-stressed trees
have hull split earlier, Lightle
“Most of the growers are
going to be winding down in
the next couple of weeks,”
she said. “It really depends
on the size of the operation.
The smaller guys (are finish-
ing), while those who have
lots and lots of acreage have
had more to balance.”