Today we continued our tour of intensive pear production regions in the Pacific Northwest. We visited three growers who tackle the problem of controlling pear vigor in their own ways. While some growers were hesitant to employ cost and labor-intensive trellis systems to control vegetative growth, others such as Chuck Peters have undertaken significant steps to test some of the vertical and V-trellis systems in high-density plantings such as those seen in Europe. These systems represent the pear industry’s goal to reduce concerns with more traditional production architectures, such as labor safety, lack of mechanization, and control of tree vigor. To that end, the primary concern for growers today revolves around the need for new and improved genetics in today’s pear production industry. While many growers have reiterated the numerous benefits of vigor control from a dwarfing rootstock, many growers expressed their reluctance to plant new pear acreage without a new variety that can be reliably grown, with far higher customer acceptance and demand. While the Yakima Valley region’s pear production industry has some unique needs, an emerging theme during the tour has been the severe need for new and improved pear genetics.

–Chris Hendrickson