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OSUExtensionAward1Located in the heart of the Hood River Valley since 1919, Duckwall Fruit has grown from a humble packing house in the middle of an orchard to an internationally respected firm that packs over two million cartons annually of premium pears. Our markets are worldwide with domestic shipments to every corner of the United States and major export destinations in the Scandinavian countries, Netherlands, Germany, Russia, India, UAE, Brazil, Guatemala, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Peru, Fiji, Dominican Republic, Canada and Mexico.

Fruit varieties from Hood River Valley orchards, hand picked into large plastic bins are delivered to Duckwall from mid-August until early October. Upon arrival, the bins are routed to either ambient air cold storage or controlled atmosphere storage (CA) depending on how the fruit is scheduled for future grading and sizing.

 

Ducwall-Fruit-Landscape-Mt-Adams-Slider1Most of the fruit is hand sorted into three grades; electronically weighed into twelve different sizes and then transferred back into the plastic bins where they are returned to either cold storage or CA storage. Controlled atmosphere storage is a special cold storage room within a closed circuit system. The temperature for all storage is kept at 31 degrees, but in CA storage the atmosphere is altered to maintain the oxygen level below 1% and the carbon dioxide as near zero as possible. This combination of temperature and atmosphere suspends the normal ripening process and allows the fruit to be held up to eight months after harvest. When the atmosphere is broken, the pears simply continue or ripen in a normal cycle. This ability to phase the time that fruit leaves storage to be packaged allows for an orderly, extended marketing season and provides fresh, succulent fruit for consumers about ten months out of the year. Once this fruit is sized and graded it becomes identified as “pre-sized” fruit as compared to non-graded un-sized fruit which is known as “orchard run” fruit.

 

Duckwall-SortingWhen the pears exit either cold storage or CA storage, their next stop is the packaging line where the bins are rolled and the fruit gently emptied into a water bath and pulled out by elevators to be placed in corrugated cartons. These cartons are palletized and returned to cold storage where they await shipment by truck or rail car or ship to a wholesale domestic or export market.

All fruit does not follow the track outlined above. The portion of the crop that is received into cold storage as “orchard run” (OR) is routed directly to a separate packaging line where it is graded, sized, cleaned, washed, dried and hand packed all in one operation. There is no return to storage between grading, sizing and packing. This procedure is a one stop process, compared to the two step process outlined above. This fruit, once packed, also returns to cold storage where it awaits shipment to a final destination.

In order to provide the consumer with fruit that is almost ready to eat, most pears are “conditioned” before they are shipped. Conditioning exposes packed cartons of pears to a concentration of natural ethylene gas Duckwall-Truckand warm circulating air to trigger the ripening process. Ripening may be stopped and maintained at any point with immediate forced air cooling to return the core temperature to 31 degrees.

After conditioning, packed pears have completed their processing cycle and are now ready to be enjoyed and become part of the healthy lifestyle of consumers all over the world.