I have decided to buy 3 pears for my backyard. As the title says, I live in Georgia, zone 8a, so we get high temps and high humidity. In addition, fire blight pressure will likely be high, as many people in our neighborhood have Callery pears and don’t take good care of them.
I’ve found many topics on disease resistant pears on this website, and pears specifically for the South, but I wanted advice specific to my situation.
I detest gritty pears and Asian pears, so I don’t wish to have any of them. I am pretty set on the Magness pear (I know it takes a while to come into production, but the dessert pear description sounds like exactly what I want.). I think my other pear is going to be the Harrow Sweet which I have read so many good things about.
I’m ordering from Cummins and I’d really rather not go elsewhere…so of those that Cummins has I’m thinking about the Shenandoah (though I’d have all my pears ripening at about the same time, Potomac (same problem as Shenandoah, although I’ve never heard anyone talk about Potomac’s flavor, just its FB resistance), Maxine, and any of the other Harrow varieties (I’ve only heard good things about Harrow Sweet though.)
VSOP, the pears you refer to do sound like great pears. I don’t have direct experience with any of those. I have no reason to criticize Cummings. I will add that my experience with Just Fruits and Exotics has been excellent.
I do believe that Magness has a reputation for being a pollen sterile variety. By the way Ayers has a similar reputation. Consequently if you get three trees be careful that the other two are effective polinizers of each other and Magness. There is reasonable doubt that Magness and Warren might actually be the same variety in which case it may also be pollen sterile. Golden Boy is not gritty. Southern Bartlett is very soft. It’s more melting but the texture is not as fine grained as Golden Boy. VSOP, I would love to add any of the above you mention to my orchard if I had the space to do it.
Something to consider when planting pear trees is the range of uses you have for the pears when you get them. A situation I may face in a few year is an overabundance of soft pears with a short shelf life. Something to consider is choosing three varieties with multiple application and / or with good storage qualities. You may detest a course grained pear when eaten fresh, but would you really prefer a soft pear cooked or canned over one that is firm? Carnes and Baldwin are two pears for example that have reputations for being fairly fine textures but firm. For fresh eating, I prefer the soft, super sweet and juicy pears. But five years from now when I have pears coming out my ears, I might end up wishing a larger percentage of my trees produced firm pears suitable for a broader range of processing uses. God bless.
A soft pear that lots of folks rave about is Leona. There is NEFEX Southern Pear Interest Group online that gives more details about it and I have more details (mostly lifted from the above website) on my Southern Pears Interest Group on Facebook. You are welcome to join the group and check it out. Leon is one that I plan to graft into some branches of my existing trees because it’s a slow one to mature, and I’m out of space anyway. I’m pretty sure you have to get scion wood for that one. But many believe its it the same pear as Louisiana Beauty. Anyway it’s a big round soft pear that’s renown in the eyes of some for its flavor. One thing in its favor. It douse well in the Louisiana Bayou Country, so it should take whatever Georgia is likely to throw at in as far as heat and humidity goes. God Bless
These are pictures of Leona. One of my FB friends says that their’s produce pears that are 4.5 inches in diameter and weigh over a pound. However, if planted as a whole tree, like Warren, it’s slow to mature (about ten years according to some).
The state recommendations vary wildly, some of them have years of experience behind them and others appear to be based on limited information. But the way they break the state down looks like someone put good thought into it. If you are not in the southern part of the state I would expect Magness to do well. Its also about as good-tasting a pear as you will ever find so its worth taking a little risk on I would say. Now that I have a fruiting Magness the pears next to it are going to start getting squeezed out.
The biggest critique I would have about the UGA recommendations is that they leave out a lot of varieties that do wonderfully in South Georgia. It just lists the most common ones and ones known outside the south. They recommend Hosui for S Georgia which is probably a really bad idea due to its susceptibility to fire blight. Warren’s chill requirement might be a little too high for extreme South Georgia. Golden Boy and Southern Bartlett are both doing fabulously in S. Georgia for me and North Florida for others, so these recommendations were probably way more dependent upon a literature review than actual field research or an extensive field evaluation to find out who was growing what where. God bless.
I’m not convinced that “heat” is usually such a big issue for a lot of pears as long as they are suitably fire blight resistant and the fruit get to finish ripening under climate controlled conditions. Some pears need long periods of refrigeration to be at their best.
My Purdue is a healthy young tree that grew pretty well in our hottest summer on record when most of my other pears did not grow much. That’s all I can say about it from firsthand experience. Oh, the other thing I can say about it is that the leaves look a lot like Tennessee and Tennessee’s daughter “Southern King”. I have two fruit growing friends who report very, very different results for Purdue. One is in Florida and describes it as large pear with thick tough skin, grainy texture and soso flavor if ripened in the refrigerator. This is based on trees in their second year of production. He said that the first year fruit was very, very bland. My other friend is in Northern Louisiana and describes a tree that sounds a lot more like what the site you posted implies. His trees produced thinned skinned fruit that was in his words “not sufficiently different from the Bartlett pears you can buy in the store to warrant mass producing them.” Here is my hunch. My hunch is that someone has a misidentified tree. Until my pears ripen or we get more testimonies from more people, I don’t know which is the real Purdue pear. Here is my assessment based on what I know. If Purdue is basically to similar to Bartlett for a specialty fruit grower to mess with, than is probably a dang good pear for the deep south. If on top of it, it’s keeping qualities are as good as the Purdue website claims, than it will likely be the superstar of my orchard. God bless.