Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/16/2008
Publication Date: 10/31/2008
Citation: Elkins, R.B., Turner, J.D., Castagnoli, S., Seavert, C.F., Mitcham, E.J., Biasi, W.V., Colonna, A., Bell, R.L. 2008. Evaluation of potential alternative European pear cultivars for U.S. West Coast growers. Acta Horticulturae. 800:483-489. Interpretive Summary: The U.S. West Coast pear industries of California, Oregon, and Washington have traditionally relied upon a limited number of cultivars for commercial sales. Three cultivars accounted for 98% of the total production from 2003 to 2005: 'Bartlett' (51%), 'Beurre d'Anjou' (36%), and 'Beurre Bosc'. The paucity of commercially-favored major pear cultivars contrasts with the large number of apple cultivars offered to consumers in recent years. In recent years, there has been a tendency toward over-supply and stagnant returns for 'Anjou' and 'Bartlett'. Coincidently, consumers show more interest in diverse produce selections, and the retail trend toward specialized and up-scale inventory is increasing. New cultivars may offer added value. The evolving supply and demand scenario has thus fostered a renewed interest in alternative European pear cultivars among West Coast growers. Increasing interest in new cultivars catalyzed the initiation of two projects in California and Oregon to test the horticultural and sensory attributes of potential commercially-viable cultivars. Goals were to: 1) introduce growers to new possibilities for various types of markets, 2) gain localized production and post-harvest information, and 3) test consumer reaction. Trials were established in California, Oregon, and West Virginia. From 2001 to 2006, fruit quality and production traits were collected at all three locations, and consumer preference trials were conducted in California and Oregon. Among the more favorably rated pears were 'Blake's Pride', 'Sunrise', US71655-014 from the USDA pear breeding program, and 'Cinnamon', a fully-russeted sport of 'Bartlett'. This work will introduce new pear cultivars into the retail produce markets.
Technical Abstract: California, Oregon, and Washington produced 98% of the commercial U.S. pear crop from 2003 to 2005, consisting of 'Williams Bartlett' (51%), 'Beurre Anjou' (36%), 'Beurre Bosc' (11%), and 2% others, mainly 'Doyenne du Comice', 'Red Clapp's Favorite', 'Seckel', and 'Concorde'. Declining processing demand has heightened the interest and evaluation of new fresh market alternatives. Production, post-harvest quality, and consumer sensory evaluation data from 2001 to 2006 has allowed the identification of several new potentially commercially valuable cultivars. Among the more favorably rated candidates are fire blight resistant selections developed at the USDA-ARS, Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, West Virginia. These are 'Blake's Pride' (OHUS 66131-021), US 71655-014, and 'Sunrise' (OHUS 66170-047) which both bloom and harvest before or with 'Bartlett'. 'Blake's Pride' trees yield consistently, but dry weather is required for optimum fruit finish. 'Sunrise' trees are also productive, and fruit maintains a clear finish. Also promising is 'Cinnamon' (Fowler Nurseries, Inc., Newcastle, CA, USA), a fully russeted sport of 'Bartlett', which blooms before or with 'Bartlett' but harvests about two weeks later in California. 'Abate Fetel' and 'Concorde' have been difficult to ripen in California, and 'Concorde' has shown some internal browning after one month of storage.