The South African pear season is ending on a high note thanks to Forelle pears. They are the first pears of the season whose volumes aren’t markedly down and the sizing on Forelle is “surprisingly good”, after a season of depressed volumes and small sizes on the earlier cultivars.

The Forelle harvest started in week 11 and overall industry experts report good colour and packout percentages, size too. The season is later than usual. In some areas the Forelle harvest would usually be over by the end of March.

Night temperatures are dropping as autumn approaches in the Southern Hemisphere. “We’re not used to harvesting in autumn, but the cool nights are helping the Forelle to maintain its blush,” says Christo Strydom of Wolfpack, where they are busy with the last 10% of the 2017/18 pear harvest. “Daytime temperatures are in the mid to high 20s, we don’t expect it to reach over 30°C again.” He explains that the Forelle is naturally born red (unlike an apple where the colour needs to develop) but that two conflicting conditions turn the blush to green: shade created by leaf cover as well as daytime temperatures over 30°C. Managing the two factors simultaneously can be a bit of a Catch-22, but not this season.

Another benefit to cooler autumnal conditions is that the fruit’s internal pulp temperature is lower when coming in from the orchard, which reduces pressure on the packhouse refrigeration structure. –