More pears than apples picked in 2013

04/04/2014 15:00

Last year - for the first time ever - more pears than apples were harvested, i.e. 327 million kg of pears, versus 314 million kg of apples. The pear-growing area increased by 4 percent relative to 2012, but the apple-growing area declined marginally as the provisional results of the Harvest estimate 2013 show.

Apple and pear crops

Apple and pear crops

Larger area of pear orchards

The main reasons for last year’s bumper pear harvest was the considerable expansion of the pear orchard area and the high yield per hectare (ha) in 2013. The pear-growing area was gradually reduced from 13,900 ha in 1947 to 5,000 ha in 1989. Since 1990, the pear orchard area as well as the yield per ha have increased. With 8,169 ha, 2012 was the first year in which the pear-growing area was larger than the apple-growing area (7,948 ha).  The pear-growing area increased further to 8,509 ha in 2013 and at the same time the apple-growing area decreased to 7,906 ha. With 327 million kg, the pear harvest was still below the level of bumper year 2011, when 336 million kg of pears were picked on a 300 ha smaller area.

Apple and pear-growing areas

Apple and pear-growing areas

Netherlands: good conditions for pear cultivation

The ideal weather conditions  in 2011 were the most important factor for that year’s bumper crop. As pear trees are more easily damaged by night frost than apple trees, pear harvests tend to vary considerably from one year to the next, but in general, conditions in the Netherlands are favourable due to the mild winters. Over the past five decades, the pear harvest per ha has increased fourfold. The Netherlands is the fourth largest pear-growing country in the EU. Usually, the total pear harvest is bigger only in Italy, Spain and Belgium.

Conference most important pear variety

Conference is by far the most popular pear variety. Last year, 256 million kg were picked. In second place was the Doyenné du Comice variety with 28 million kg. The most popular apple variety (Elstar) yielded 123 million kg. The Jonagold variety yielded 66 million kg. 

Apple and pear crops by variety, 2013

Apple and pear crops by variety, 2013

Renzo Ghianni