Pear production in the major producing countries is estimated to reach a record 16 million tons, according to a new report from the US department of agriculture's horticultural products division.
"A large crop in China accounts for much of the increase," it said.
China, already the world's largest producer of the fruit, accounting for about 60 per cent of the total crop, is forecast to produce 11.2 million metric tons of pears during the marketing year 2006/06, up about 5 per cent over the previous year.
This will help boost world pear production, which is set to increase by around 700,000 tons from the previous season when production in all countries totalled 19.5 million tons.
Increased pear planting area and improved tree management has resulted in steady increases in overall production in China, according to the USDA, allowing the country to increase its share of total exports from just 7 per cent in 1999 to 17 per cent in 2004.
China's expansion has however tended to affect the smaller pear-producing countries like Spain, France, Portugal, and Germany rather than the US and South American producers.
But with an expected 7 per cent drop in pear production in the United States this year, it will continue to have growing influence on the export market. Export volumes from the United States for 2005/06 are estimated down nearly 6 per cent.
At the same time, the US has just re-opened its doors to Chinese Ya pears, with five containers arriving in February. Trade of this variety was shut down in December 2003 when the fungus Alternaria yaliinficiens, not known to occur in the United States, was detected.
In December 2005, USDA's Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS) and technical counterparts from China's food authorities (AQSIQ) negotiated the resumption of Ya pears from approved orchards in Hebei and Shandong Provinces.
"Increases in pear imports in 2005/06 from China are expected to be offset by lower imports from Argentina," suggested the report.
APHIS has also signed a work plan that will allow, under certain conditions, the importation of fragrant pears from China. To be eligible, the fragrant pears must be grown in the Korla region of Xinjiang Province at a production site that is registered with the national plant protection organization of China. It is expected that shipping will begin this marketing season.