ABOUT PEARS: Pyrus spp.

ROSACEAE

Relatives: Apple, Loquat, Quince, Medlar (somewhere between a Pear and a Hawthorne)

Pears have been around and cultivated for literally thousands of years. They probably originated somewhere around Asia Minor (modern day Turkey, Syria, Israel and Iraq) and spread outward from there. Homer's Odyssey even mentions Pears. To that extent, Pears come in a variety of sizes, colors, shapes and tastes.

DESCRIPTION

Trees vary, and there are many different cultivars, but generally speaking, they are all small to medium sized with a fairly long life, some reputably as long as 200 years.
Leaves: Deciduous, oval, either blunt shaped or pointed, and tend to be a non-descript, medium green in color.
Flowers: White, small and occasionally a little fragrant. Pollination is by bees and insects, but there are several (Bartlett and Spalding, for example, that are self fertile).
Fruit: A pome, like an apple; most trees take about four years to bear fruit. Some cultivars have a smooth, thin skin while others are much thicker and are hard to chew. European Pears are generally found to be a bit sweeter than Asian Pears.

CULTIVATION

Pears are very easy to grow and are especially well suited for the beginning small fruit gardener. They are most forgiving of soil types and can tolerate poor drainage, although fruit production will probably be affected.
Location: Simply put, they grow best in full sun; they are moderately wind tolerant; some shelter from continual, strong winds will help.
Temperature: Pear fruits grow best in warm areas but can actually grow in cooler areas than some other small fruits. However, a long, warm summer will help in tree ripening of the fruits.
Chilling: Chilling refers to the number of hours, 45 degrees F and under, during the dormancy period. All fruit and nut trees need a specific amount of chilling hours before they will produce fruit. The amount varies with each variety and the hours need not be continuous. For example as listed: (500 hours).
Soil/water/nutrients: Pears grow best in deep, well drained, loamy soils, although they are remarkably tolerant of even sandy and clay soils, and they can tolerate poorer drainage than other small fruits. Trees are only moderately nutrient hungry, but Pears will benefit from an annual addition of nutrients in the spring season. Any balanced fertilizer such as 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 would probably be fine.
Pruning: Trees need to be pruned to allow light and air to penetrate into the crown, which gives good leaf and fruit production, as well as reduces the risk of fungal diseases. Pear trees will benefit from an annual pruning in late autumn. Pear trees will tend to develop long, upright branches, so plan on pruning them back to a manageable size. Prune out all crossing branches and remove any suckers that sprout. Remember that Pears tend to produce most of their fruit on lateral, not up-right, branches.
Pests and diseases: Pears can often be the target for a number of blights (Fireblight in particular when springs are humid). Keep an eye for wasps and neighbors once fruit production kicks in. (Almost any Pear that hits the ground will have a wasp or two working on it, so be careful around fallen fruits).

CULTIVARS

There are several Asian and European Pear cultivars out there, but they all have different chilling requirements and do best in different climatic zones. Rabbit Ridge Nursery currently offers the following cultivars, which will do quite nicely in our area:

(Click on Pear Variety to link to that Pear)

QUICK FACTS

AVERAGE YEARS TO BEARING: Standard: 8 - 10 years
Dwarf: 3 - 5 years
AVERAGE YIELD PER TREE: Standard: 3 bushels
Dwarf: 1 + bushel
SPACE NEEDED PER TREE: 10 - 15 foot circle

POLLINATION REQUIREMENTS: Cross with another Pear

COMMON INSECT PESTS: Psylla, Codling moth, curculio

COMMON DISEASES: Fireblight, pear scab

USEFUL LIFE: 15 -20 + years

NUMBER OF TREES FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR: 2 trees

BEARS FRUIT ON: Spurs that are several years old

PREHARVEST INTERVALS FOR PEARS

Fire Blight Spray (Streptomycin) 30 days
Copper Hydroxide 0 days
RRN Fruit Spray (Captan + Malathion + Carbaryl) 7 days
RRN Super 10 Max (Permethrin) 14 days

Plan on spraying every 10 days in summer to have beautiful fruit.

A FINAL WORD ABOUT PEARS AND PEAR ROOTSTOCK

All Rabbit Ridge Nursery Pears are grafted onto superior rootstock; are low chill cultivars, and will grow and perform very well in our Climatic Zone. The following symbols are for your information and can be found under BLOOM TIME on each listed cultivar.

!! means does better with a pollinator
@@ means Pear is grafted onto an Old Domestic Pear Rootstock
%% means Pear is grafted onto an Old Home x Farmingdale 333 Pear Rootstock
** means Pear is grafted onto Winter Nelis Pear Rootstock
BB means Pear is grafted onto an Betulifolia Pear Rootstock