Yakima Valley’s crop of pears almost beyond compare: Things everyone should know about one of our biggest crops

If you knew pears were one of the state’s biggest crops, you belong to the super-breed of knowledgeable Washingtonians. Here’s more you should know about this beautiful fruit.

YAKIMA — Apples, Starbucks, fir trees, Microsoft, Boeing and Nirvana.

Any Washingtonian worth their salt could tell you that those six things arguably are what puts the Evergreen State on the map. But is that list missing something? Take a second to think about it. Got your answer?

If you said “pears,” (and would have said that even if you hadn’t read the headline), congratulations — you belong to the super-breed of Washingtonians who know and care that the state is the leading producer of pears in the nation.

In fact, Washington and Oregon together grow roughly 86 percent of the nation’s pears — a fact more residents should know.

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Kevin Moffitt of the Portland-based Pear Bureau Northwest shared some professional insight into the hotly debated question about why more people aren’t properly respectful of the pear: It’s simple: They’re bad at picking pears and therefore don’t eat them. That leads to a sort of domino effect — they don’t care about them and don’t pay attention to them.

“People don’t understand how to tell when they’re ripe,” he said. “For example, if you take an Anjou pear that’s not ripe and bite into it like an apple, it’s not gonna taste like much.” How sad.

Here in Yakima, we should especially be cognizant of pears and pear-related facts since we’re one of the leading pear-growing districts in the leading pear-growing state in the second-most pear-growing country in the world.

But you probably don’t know much about Yakima’s role in supplying the nation with pears, so here are a few facts about Yakima’s pear harvest that you can rattle off at your next dinner party:

• The Yakima pear district is the third-largest pear-growing district in the country, with only the Wenatchee and Hood River, Oregon, pear districts growing more pears annually.

• Pear yields are measured in units of 44-pound boxes and typically divided into two categories: Bartlett and winter pears, such as Anjou or Bosc. According to this year’s estimates, Yakima is expected to grow 604,000 boxes of Bartlett pears, and 1.4 million boxes of winter pears. If you convert those estimates to tons, Yakima is estimated to grow over 13,000 tons of…

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