When considering planting tree fruits, consider Asian pears. Many fruit growers are discovering the advantages of Asian pears: their reliability, vigorous growth, and unique delicious flavors paired with oftentimes better disease and fire blight resistance than many European pears.
Most grocery store pears we know of are technically “European pears,” such as Bartlett, Bosc, Ayers, Moonglow, etc. Asian pears differ from European pears in that most varieties remain firm and ultra-crisp when fully ripe, not turning soft and buttery like European types. Some people appreciate this trait, and once you try some really good Asian pears, you may quickly be made a convert. We have come to like them better than European pears because of their complex fruity flavor profile and strong sweetness, as well as their reliable and vigorous growth. They are also called Nashi pears, Apple-Pears and Salad Pears.
The most important thing you can do when growing pears is: DON’T GIVE THEM ANY NITROGEN FERTILIZER, ESPECIALLY 10-10-10. They just don’t need it, and it makes them prone to getting fireblight and die! A little organic nitrogen the first year or two is fine, then back off! If your soil is very poor, then just go very, very easy with it. Pears thrive on neglect better than micro-management.
They perform best in areas with hot, long, sunny summers such as in most of the US, but when grown in short-season or cool-summer areas like New England they will still produce but may lack sugar content and flavor. In the South, West, Southwest and Mid-West they excel and are being increasingly commercially grown and planted. Highly recommended for the Mid-South, South, Southwest West and Midwest USA. Give them a try!
EARLY PEARS: NEW WORLD, SHINSUI, SHINSEIKI
MID-SEASON: HOSUI, YOINASHI, CLEAR MOON, SHINKO
LATE SEASON: OLYMPIC, NIITAKA,
On Growing Pears:
Compared to other fruits, pears are easier to grow. They are great beginner fruit trees as they are quick-growing, reliable, hardy, and don’t require as much care to produce large crops. That is, only if you pick the correct varieties for your area and give them decent planting and care. Even then, sometimes neglected pear trees continue to crop for many years.
A few misconceptions about pears are that they take a decade to start fruiting and that they are all extremely prone to fireblight (a serious pear disease). That may be true for certain types of pears, but not ours. Pears grafted onto OH x F rootstock (such as most of our’s) should start producing fruit in 3-4 seasons only. All of our pears are noted as being resistant to fireblight and other disorders. That’s one reason why we offer these types. The other reason is the flavor and quality of our pears is outstanding.
Pears need a good, well-drained site and like average soil conditions. They do well in sandy, rocky or loam, as well as rich soil as long as it does not hold water or flood for weeks. However, that being said they do handle higher soil moisture better than apples and can take a slightly wetter site. Clay soil is best for pears but we’ve seen them do great in extremely sandy soil as well.
Planting distance is about 15-18′ apart on pears.
Go very easy and light on the nitrogen fertilizer with pears. Chemical fertilizers like “10-10-10” usually cause an overdose of nitrogen that leads to excessive tender, green growth that is very susceptible to fireblight, a very harmful pear disease that makes the tree branches black, damaged and look like they got scorched with fire, and can be fatal to the tree. Organic fertilizers or chemical fertilizers lower in nitrogen (the first number in the three-number chain on the box) will help prevent this while still fostering strong growth. Never fertilize pears past July for those reasons. Pears need little fertilizer in good soil.
Pruning pears to keep them shorter and training the branches to wide 45-60 degree angles will keep them in good shape and healthier. Organic sprays recommended for apples are very helpful at maintaining tree integrity and fruit quality, but are less needed with pears. Pears are good beginner fruit trees. All of our varieties (except Bartlett) are easier to grow organically and produce excellent fruit.
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