A: I’m a second-generation pear grower taking on the challenge and rewards of managing our family farm in Mt. Hood, Oregon, a premier region for pear cultivation. The family’s legacy on the mountain started in 1910 when my great grandfather homesteaded a ranch, maintained a small pear orchard and built the Mt. Hood Lodge for vacationers from Portland. My grandparents moved back to the ranch in the 1960s, followed by my parents and family in the 1980s, when my father committed to the year-round business of growing pears. As the pear doesn’t fall far from the tree, after earning a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in agricultural and resource economics at University of California-Davis, and serving as orchard manager at Harry & David, I returned in 2013 to run what is now the family farm. Today, we are a mid-size operation and manage approximately 350 acres of pear trees that produce just over 5,000 tons of pears annually.
Q: What other roles do you play in the Northwest pear industry?
A: In addition to managing the family farm, I currently serve as president of the Washington-Oregon Canned Pear Association, and I’m seated on the boards of the Hood River Grower Shipper Association and Hood River Supply Association. While McCarthy Family Farm concentrates on pear production, we also grow apples, flowers, and cherries.
Q: Can you describe the pear growing cycle? We understand it can take decades to realize your crop’s full potential.
A: In the pear business you plant pears for your heirs! The tree fruit business, especially pears, has an extremely long life cycle. For example, the trees that I plant now will be fully mature in 10 to 15 years and can stay in production up to 80 years. Our goal is to have all of our trees 50 years and younger. The trees are planted in blocks, which helps manage the orchard as a whole.