2016 European pear variety observations

I have finally been getting enough in the way of a Euro pear harvest to make a report. Please add your experiences!

Aurora - A very good Bartlett-like (aromatic) pear which is bigger than Bartlett on average. Early ripening. They are ripening very well with fridge / counter treatment, I had a little center rot on a few but most were good. Very thin skin which does not need peeling.
Blake’s Pride - Early like Aurora. Good pear flavor, more like FdML in terms of light fragrance but more mild and less sweet so far - not as interesting. Skin is annoyingly thick. Can be picked pretty green looking but tops will soften. Rotting if too late.
Beurre Superfin - Getting better flavor and sweetness than previous years. It has a “lemony” flavor like d’Anjou. Still I am having trouble ripening them properly, they often rot from inside. A few that were not as far along when picked and which were stored several weeks in the fridge came out pretty good. The skin is somewhat thick like Blake’s Pride. This pear is beaten by Aurora and Magness on all fronts. It is supposed to be great but perhaps not in my climate. On the plus side it has been very productive for several years now.
Sheldon - I picked these a bit early and ripened in the fridge/counter for some time. They came out nicely, lemony like d’Anjou and Superfin. They did not have rot from inside issues, probably helped by early picking.
White Doyenne - Not ripening super well and lots of stinkbug damage this year. Also I had many small fruits and fruits that were not very sweet or flavorful. So, the best ones were good pears but it was not consistent enough.
Nye Russet Bartlett - All of these disappeared except some too-early ones. It has been very good in past years.
Magness - Fridge aged ones have been excellent, in the Aurora and Fondante des Moulin-Lille taste school of “drippy candied richness”. So far they don’t seem too hard to ripen, all of them ripened well with no inner rot. Looking to be a real winner!
Nouveau Poiteou - This is a late pear which needs a late picking long storage time. I picked them a bit too early this year I think. A few fully ripened and they were very average in flavor. I expect its a better pear than I got out of it but the pick/ripen is challenging.
Urbaniste - I only got one well-ripened one but it was very good. It is similar to Fondante des Moulins-Lille but more acidic.
Docteur Desportes - Very much your standard pear flavor, something like Bosc, very good! It has a nice shape, short and squat and large.
Fondante des Moulins-Lille - Lots of bug damage but very tasty as usual. It is different than Aurora and Magness, it is more juicy and the perfume is more “light” - light aromatic (roses) not heavy aromatic (musk). Its a great contrast. It needs more thinning than I have ben giving it, the pears usually need to be large to be top flavor, approaching the standard grocery pear in size.

Magness and Aurora are my new “winners” this year, they are very tasty and also reliably ripening. Desportes and Fondante des Moulin-Lille are winners from past years.

I am still learning how to ripen pears. If they are yellow I usually just leave them out and eat when softened to the right level by a finger press. If they are not yellow I leave in fridge until green color wanes (varies by variety) and then pull them out and counter ripen til finger test works on them. I confess I really am preferring my pears over apples this year, if they are properly ripened they are something else! And, I can eat more fresh pears at once compared to apples.


Thank you for the excellent report it’s very helpful! There are several of those pears that I do not currently grow. Can’t wait to try them. Have you had fruit from Citron de Carmes? This link and others report the fruit as very good Medieval Cookery - Fruit .

I’ve grown Aurora for years because it was a variety touted by Jim Cummins, one of my early mentors on varietal choices. You don’t mention that it is a russet, which seems important. I think it is quite good and exceptionally pretty for an early pear, although it is not as productive as Harrow Delight, which comes earlier. Neither variety is important to me because I don’t enjoy pears until about mid-Sept anyway- except as offerings in my nursery.

I’ve been waiting a very long time to sample Magness again, after being impressed with the quality of one I tested from another orchard years ago. It is the slowest of any variety to come to maturity of any pear in my nursery. The tree itself is vigorous and disease and psyla resistant so it is a great candidate as a mother tree of multigrafts. That would reduce the wait for fruit a few years if you grafted for precocity.

For pears, productivity is as important to me as quality. Many don’t reliably crop annually here. Both Sheldon and Aurora are pretty reliable, but nothing in my orchard can hold a candle to Harrow Sweet for reliable, early and heavy production of high quality, psyla and fireblight resistant pears and a naturally spreading tree.


I gave a detailed report on mine in a thread called Southern Pears. That said Southern Bartlett is extremely juicy and absolutely out of this world when perfectly ripened in the refrigerator. It’s extremely juicy and bland handled other ways it seems. It has a very short shelf life. Southern Bartlett is ripe and needs to be picked on about the third week of July in SE Georgia. Golden Boy ripens about two weeks later in early August. It’s a consistently bigger pear and looks pretty much like a Bartlett pear to me (which is too blight prone in SE Georgia). It has a more robust flavor in more stages of development and is generally sweeter than S Bartlett. But it’s not as good as a perfectly refrigerator ripe Southern Bartlett. It’s skin is just bit tough. (Southern Bartlett has great thin skin.) Still, I think Golden Boy is an all around better pear because its for flexible and has a longer shelf life (1 month) if refrigerated immediately after picking. Golden Boy is a soft pear but kind of meaty and soft grained in texture. LeConte is just a small version of Golden Boy. It’s a little firmer still but still a soft pear. Tennessee is a small round pear with a thick bitter skin. It has the sweetest and most intense flavor of the pears I have ripened so far. I can’t decide if it has the best or worse flavor of my pears. I think it would make interesting juice and hard cider. Hopefully I will be in a better position to evaluate more varieties next year. God bless.



Alan, one thing Jim says about Aurora is it can keep a very long time. So, put them in the fridge and eat in December! I have eaten all but one of mine now.

Most of the new pears fruiting this year I put on quince. Aurora and Magness I planted 14 years ago on seedling, and they did not fruit for 10 so I bought new trees on quince and finally got fruit. I forget where I was reading about hardy quince rootstocks, for you folks in colder zones that will be a good deal when they have them. I am a complete convert to quince and wished I had put all of my Euros on quince at the start (with interstems on some of course).

I finally grafted Harrow Sweet this year after all your raves on it Alan. It will be a few years but I am looking forward to it!

Cool man, I saw that nice thread on southern pears. Let me add a link here


Harold Tukey, in his classic book on dwarf fruit trees. mentions 17th (or was it 16th) century Boston growers who were members of a British style horticultural society that recorded using quince successfully by merely planting the union below the soil line. I read about this 25 years ago but never put it to the test, but it is bound to work. I wonder why commercial growers in northern regions haven’t done this.

Harrow Sweet is so precocious the need for other root stock besides OHXF has been reduced for me substantially. Bartlett also fruits within 4-5 years on non-dwarfing rootstock and Seckel within another year. .

Good tip on Aurora- but it would have to be distinctly different than Harrow Sweet for me to begin worrying about fruit storage in late Aug. My refrigerators tend to be full of stone fruit at that time on the way to distribution to clients and food banks.

Aurora is prettier than HS because it tends to avoid all blemish on its russet skin. If I was a commercial grower selling low-spray, I’d certainly take the variety more seriously. Except, come to think of it, psyla likes it much more than Harrow Sweet.

Do you get psyla down there? It is a bear of a pear pest. But your surround program probably takes care of it, I suppose. Psyla increases the value of vigorous rootstock.


I have never gotten psylla. Surround could help, but I am not spraying the non-fruiting trees with Surround and that has been most of my trees for many years. So I think I may have just been lucky. I also rarely get fireblight on pears.

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I wouldn’t be surprised if it fruited next year. Mine set fruit the first year in the ground. It had a big crop this year which was devoured in one or two nights by animals.

Most of my other Euros met the same fate (and all the Asian pears). My whole harvest has been one Mericrest (very good, juicy) and 3 Fondante des Moulins-Lille (4th is still hanging). I didn’t ripen the first couple Lille well, though they had 16-17 brix. I’ve still got one on the counter. I also had problems with them last year, losing a lot to rot on the tree. But, I know from a few years ago that it can be very tasty- 18-19 brix and juicy. I have a Chinese co-worker who normally prefers Asian pears, but ranked it ahead of all 4-5 AP samples.

I don’t remember it being as heavily russeted or as round in past years.

After a week on the counter:

So Magness on quince fruited in year #4 for you? Mine is on Quince and still hasn’t even flowered in year #5, even with plenty of branch bending. It is running out of runway before becoming a multi-graft, but you do make it sound worth waiting for.

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My FdML get small like that when I don’t thin well enough (which is often - the tree oversets badly). The small ones are often not as tasty as the bigger ones. The amount of russet varies by the year, this year I have more than I usually do but not as much as yours. I also have rot problems with them. In general I get a fair amount of moth damage on my Euro pears and those damaged fruits will often rot. It varies by variety how susceptible they are. My ideal pear not only needs to taste great, it needs to resist moths and stinkbugs. This year Magness and Aurora did pretty well on both counts.

Magness is fruiting in its 5th year, I kept the old tree going a bit longer in case the new one died.

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I checked Aurora on Cummins website. It states that it is fire blight susceptible. What is your experience re. Aurora and fire blight?

It never got any blight for me, I have had it for 12+ years (I had an earlier tree which never produced). But, my pears rarely blight so I don’t have the best data.

Thanks, Scott. I would have thought your area is more blight prone than mine as your are hotter and more humid.

FB susceptibility described by Cummins is what stops me from buying this variety.

When you said you do not get a lot of blight, is that apply to only pears or both peras and apples?

FWIW, I seem to have one or two pear trees a year get hit with fireblight and my (~5th leaf) Aurora has never seen any infection. I’m located out West. ARS (citing Brooks and Olmo) describes its resistance as similar to Bartlett.

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I’m going with Harrow Sweet this year, but I’d like another. What’s the general consensus for another disease resistant variety?

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Personally I would get a Magness on quince. Those two are sort of close but I don’t think pear season matters as much as apples - stash them all for later.

I didn’t get a super big pear harvest this year and only have a few left. I have been pulling out a few every weekend for counter ripening. I am really looking forward to more pears in my future :slight_smile:

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Harvest Queen has blown me away the past 2 years, but good luck finding it.

I would second Magness as an excellent pick. Put it on a dwarf stock like Quince, OHF.333, or OHF.87. Just be aware that Magness is largely pollen sterile.

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@Matt_in_Maryland @scottfsmith Magness & Harvest Queen look great, but I need something attainable and something that isn’t sterile. Perhaps the next best choice?

Classic old Seckel would work.

I was thinking the same thing, Seckel is always good and is easy to find. You could also just graft e.g. Seckel on to one of your trees, pears are a great place to start grafting as you bring the scion close to the tree and you get a take :grinning: Well, maybe a touch harder than that but you should have no problems getting a take. Only one limb of the third variety will give plenty of flowers.

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My first Blake’s Pride. Came off easily. The other three do not budge after a lift and a tug. You said could rot if left too long. I may pick the rest this weekend. Almost 10 oz.

It is in a fridge now. I plan to leave it there for a few days and counter ripen it later. Any advice, please?

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