Good Fruit Grower

January 15

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Naumes stays FOCUSED ON PEARS aumes is a name synonymous with pears. The Naumes family, producing pears and tree fruit for generations, has adapted to change and learned to capitalize on what it does well. Naumes, Inc., headquartered in Medford, Oregon, has used geographically diverse tree fruit operations in Oregon, California, and Washington as a way to manage crop risk and expand market reach. The company, nearly 70 years in existence, has kept pear orchards current while removing varieties and crops that no longer fit its portfolio. It has modernized its packing houses and developed marketing alliances to strengthen its market position. The latest changes include returning to its Medford strength and exploring new opportunities in wine grapes. Mike Naumes is president and chief executive officer of Naumes; his wife, Laura, is vice president of the vertically integrated family business. Triplet sons, Sean and Joe, 24, have recently returned to the family business after attending college, while triplet daughter, Cynthia, works in California's Bay Area. N The Naumes family returns to its roots in Medford, after selling most of its California orchards. History It was Mike's grandfather Peter Naumes who brought the family to Medford. Peter followed the railroad from Chicago to the West Coast, settling in 1907 in Hood River, Oregon, to grow apples. About 20 years later, Peter relocated to Medford to grow pears. The roots of the Naumes packing company go back to 1946 when Mike's father, Joe, and Steve Nye started a commercial packing house called Nye and Naumes Company. Through the years, orchards were acquired, and the company eventually packed only its by Melissa Hansen own fruit. In the 1960s, the Naumes family bought out Nye, and the name was eventually changed to Naumes, Inc. At one time, several family members were involved in the business: Joe, Mike, cousin Pete Naumes, and Mike's sister, Sue Naumes. Joe died in 1989; Pete retired about 15 years ago and has since died; and Sue has also retired. Today, Mike and Laura manage the company. The Naumes company, most known for its pears, has been said to be one of the largest family owned and operated pear grower-packers in the world. At one time, the family farmed 7,500 acres, although not all in pears. These days, the company has more than 2,500 acres total, with 1,700 acres planted to pears in Medford (apples have been removed), 750 acres planted to pears and apples in north central Washington near Chelan and Pateros, and 80 acres of tree fruit and a packing facility in northern California. Growing diverse crops in diverse locations spreads the risk from market fluctuations and weather-related issues. Returning to Medford Until just recently, Naumes was big in cherries, growing 550 acres in California. But two months ago, Naumes sold the cherries and another 1,000-plus acres of pears, peaches, and other tree fruit near Marysville, California. They kept about 80 acres of tree fruit and their northern California packing facility called New England. The buyer plans to replace about 1,000 acres of tree fruit with kiwis, although there is a five-year agreement for Naumes to pack the cherry block for the new owner. "We decided to pull back to Medford," said Mike, adding that they kept the New England facility and will continue to look for outside fruit to pack there. "We're not sure what the long-term plans are of our two boys, and I'm getting to the age of wanting to slow down. We felt that with the current strong market for farmland, we had a window of opportunity. Most agricultural businesses aren't that liquid. With land prices being strong, it was the right time." The company's number-one pear variety grown in Medford is Bosc, though they grow eight other pear varieties. "The Medford district is a really good place to grow Bosc because the climate helps 24 JANUARY 15, 2014 GOOD FRUIT GROWER the variety develop the desired russet," Mike said, adding that Bosc has become a mainstream variety thanks to the promotion efforts of the Pear Bureau Northwest. "Here in Medford, we have a wide window to pick Bosc in terms of fruit pressure and can pick over a three- to four-week period without pressures dropping too far." Other pear varieties grown include Bartlett, green and red d'Anjou, Comice, Starkrimson, and specialty pears like Forelle, Seckel, and Red Comice. Mike and Laura's newest venture is a 15-acre wine grape vineyard planted on a steep slope below their house in Medford. Four clones of Pinot Noir were planted last August and already they have been approached by wineries interested in purchasing their grapes. Another 25 acres will be planted in the near future on a former Granny Smith apple block. Good Fruit Grower visited the Naumes family last fall to see their Medford orchards and packing house. A tour of their pear orchards showed a variety of

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