Pears finish strong

Labor shortages arose, posed small challenges

According to the preliminary reviews of this year’s pear harvest, the numbers are looking good.

“The harvest really was excellent because it was very dry and growers could pick most every day,” said Craig Mallon, quality control manager for Duckwall-Pooley Fruit Company.

“The quality of the fruit is excellent. The size is a bit smaller than we might expect given that it is an average year in terms of volume,” said Mallon.

“The weather was perfect until the very end,” said orchardist and County Commissioner Ron Rivers, who farms 200 acres in the upper valley. “This is a good, clean crop.”

Rivers did note one small glitch in the harvest process this year.

“Help was tight at the start of winter pear season; around Sept. 27 in Parkdale. The lower valley was still picking so we had some overlap of about a week to 10 days. When everyone was picking, we were a little short,” said Rivers. “We picked with our main crew and waited for those who arrived later.”

For Anjou pears, hanging a few extra days on the tree while waiting for pickers is not particularly a big problem. For Bartletts — which have a short turn-around time — those extra days can cause losses.

“The packing houses will be over their projected estimate on Anjou and Bartlett varieties,” said Rivers, concurring with Mallon that the overall volume was strong this year.

“I was surprised, though. I’ve seen signs on the road for pickers needed — even on some growers’ places who have housing,” noted Rivers. Farms that offer housing have generally been more attractive to workers. Posted “help-wanted” signs on those farms confirmed to Rivers that pickers were a bit scarcer this year.

“We should be finishing up in the next four days,” said Rivers on the state of the upper Valley’s last unpicked fruit. “Harvest fest is coming at a great time. We normally don’t get to enjoy it — we’re usually still picking pears, but I think we’ll get it done.”

Official reports on this year’s pear harvest will be issued after press deadline on Oct. 16. See the Saturday edition for details.

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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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