Orchard trials are underway to assess at least half a dozen new pear varieties. But it could be up to 10 years before any reach full commercial production.
Prevar, a joint venture set up to commercialise new pipfruit cultivars, says pear production is on a small scale compared with apples and is concentrated mainly in the Nelson region.
Chief executive Brett Ennis said HortResearch's foresight in starting the pear breeding programme back in the 1980s will give New Zealand a big lead if the trials prove successful.
Mr Ennis said any new varieties are still five to 10 years away from being at commercial production levels.
But he said a number of selections on commercial blocks are under trial and it's hoped that will translate into larger commercial plantings and full licensing for one or two selections over the next couple of years.