NEW - Fire Blight Focus: Resistance to Bactericides and Managing Blight in 2016, by Chuck Ingels (UCCE Sacramento County), Jim Adaskaveg (Plant Pathology Dept., UC Riverside), Broc Zoller (The Pear Doctor, Inc., Kelseyville)
European pears in the Sacramento River district are grown mostly in the Courtland/Walnut Grove area, but production extends from just south of Freeport to Isleton. This district is the state’s leading pear producing area, with over half the tonnage produced here. According to the 2013 Sacramento County Crop & Livestock Report, there were 5,264 acres harvested, with a value of $42 million.
The pear industry in Sacramento County dates back to the 1800s. Many orchards were planted over a century ago by the growers’ grandfathers or great grandfathers. Pears are mainly grown adjacent to the Sacramento River and nearby sloughs. Pears are ideal for these soils, since they can tolerate periodic flooding and soil saturation by high water tables more than most other tree crops. Pear acreage statewide has steadily decreased over the past several years, although orchards of newer varieties have been planted in recent years.
Pears are subject to several serious insect and disease pest problems. Codling moth is the most serious insect pest, and methods used to control it affect other insect and mite pest problems. Most growers use pheromone mating disruption, where the same scent that female moths use to attract male moths is released into the orchard atmosphere, preventing males from finding a mating with females. The practice works well under low population levels, but an insecticide application is often still required to keep populations low. Fire blight is the most serious disease problem in this area and in many years it is the most costly pest problem. Management of fire blight requires multiple antibiotic sprays in the spring and several passes through the orchard with a cutting crew to remove “strikes”; often severe cuts must be made, resulting in lost production for two or more years. Pear scab is also problematic in some years, although it is usually not as severe here as in North Coast orchards.