Harvest begins in lower, middle valleys

Early harvest reports suggest that frost and wind may have mildly affected the Bartlett pear crop in Hood River Valley.

Orchardists in the lower and middle parts of the valley began picking Bartletts this week, following the smaller harvest of Star Crimson pears in the lower valley.

“The quality is not as good as we had last year, based on fruit size and some frost marking because we had quite a few cold nights,” said Craig Mallon, field supervisor with Duckwall Fruit in Odell. He said markings from “limb rub” seem to be prevalent, following an “exceptionally windy year” in the valley.

The result could be that some of the Bartletts, primarily destined for canneries, could be downgraded from top grade, Mallon said.

“We’re just getting some fruit in from the lower valley, but the first indications are that it is lighter crop than we thought,” he said.

“From what we see now, the last couple years had some very nice quality, clean pears, and it looks like in certain areas of the valley this crop has a few more defects to it and may be a bit smaller,” Mallon said.

Orchardist Steve Bickford of Pine Grove said his Bartlett crop will be “a little less than last year, but a good crop.” He expects to pick 1,200-1,300 bins of Bartletts.

Mallon said the pear bloom dates were “a tad late,” in April, and the weather was cool in the crucial first six weeks following bloom day.

Mallon said harvesting of upper valley Star Crimsons should start next week, followed by upper valley Bartletts a week after that. Bartletts make up about 30 percent of the pear harvest in Hood River Valley.

The estimated start for the county’s primary pear, Anjous, is Sept. 9 in the lower valley, Mallon said. Upper valley Anjous start later in September. Anjous comprise 60 percent of all pears picked in Hood River County.

Bickford was glad to be harvesting.

“This is the time of year when we start to make money instead of spending it. This is the culmination of the entire year,” he said.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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