Tractors’ hum marks start of pear harvest


News staff writer

September 9, 2006

The pear harvest swung into full action this week as workers launched into picking the Anjou variety.

“The fruit is looking good,” said Chuck Thomsen.

He had 75 workers plucking pears in his orchards along Eastside Road Thursday afternoon. Swirls of dust followed the tractors’ paths as the drivers hauled bins to a loading area. Patricia Lachino went from bin to bin collecting harvest samples and placing bin card numbers in slots. A continuous flow of trucks bearing a Fruit placard in their windshield began the multiple week process of taking fruit to packing houses in the Hood River Valley.

Crew supervisor Alfredo Elisea said they began work in Thomsen’s orchards on Monday with close to 125 pickers.

“This area, close to Panorama Point, it ripens first,” Elisea said.

Many of the lower Hood River Valley orchardists had finished with Bartlett pears before the Labor Day holiday. Kent Lambert, of Lage Orchards and Ron Rivers both planned to start their Anjou harvests Friday morning.

“We’re finishing up Gala (apples) Thursday. We’ll do our tailgate planning meeting Thursday afternoon and the pickers will begin the next morning,” Lambert said.

The weather is expected to continue sunny and dry for the harvest although temperatures may climb back up into the mid-80s range next week. Pear Bureau Northwest president and CEO Kevin Moffitt said the Hood River orchardists who grow Anjous should be able to expect a good year on the market.

“Returns for the growers in Hood River should be fairly good because of the damage in Washington,” Moffitt said.

He referred to July hailstorms that damaged green Anjous in the Cashmere, Dryden, and Peshastin areas near Wenatchee, Wash.

“In terms of what this means to your local growers, the severe hail damage creates basically a short crop year so Hood River growers should have a clean crop with a good amount of fruit.”

Moffit said the industry is expecting a crop that is nine percent off of last year’s production and from a historical standpoint, the production is about eight percent off a five-year average.

“It’s a smaller crop than we have seen for a while,” he said.

The damage in Washington State took out 1.1 million boxes of pears. The traditional counting term of a box translates to 44 pounds of pears per box. The bureau represents 1,600 pear growers in four areas in Oregon and Washington, which grow 84 percent of the pears nationwide.

According to the 2006 Oregon Fruit Tree inventory, as of Jan. 1 pears other than Bartletts accounted for the most fruit trees in Oregon with 2.87 million trees. For Hood River County, that proportion holds steady with pears other than Bartletts at a count of 1,315,600 trees and Bartletts at a count of 510,900 trees.

Other varieties remaining to be harvested for 2006 include Bosc, Cascade, Comice, Concorde, Forelle, Packham, Red Anjou, Seckel, Starkrimson and Taylors Gold.

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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 to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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