Breeding and Testing Fire Blight-Resistant Pears at the University of Tennessee

Have you tried irrigation Clark? I’d think irrigation would turn lots of that “marginal” Kansas farmland into prime pear growing territory. The problem with Alaska is that you can’t do much to modify the climate. Kansas has a lot more options.

I have spring fed water for my house. One of my goals is to irrigate all of my trees from the spring. It produces enough water to do the job. Cost to irrigate gets down to putting in irrigation pipe and some electricity to run the already in place pump.

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My problem is not water alone it’s poor drainage on clay soil. Plants get a condition called chlorosis and raising fruit in those type of areas is the hardest. The environment can be harsh as well. I have plenty of water im sitting on an acre and a half of it. In river bottom soil like @39thparallel has you set up drip irrigation and forget it. My land is a little more challenging to manage but i do a good job with it and document it very well how i do it. Frequently i change the soil somewhat if i need to. Compost, aged cow manure, woodchips etc. all help. The fact im doing all that is what makes it challenging. To much or not enough water either one can be bad here Chlorosis ()-Hort Answers - University of Illinois Extension. We can and do grow fruit but the weather, pests, and diseases are things you have to experience first hand to understand.

A string of warm days in winter, a very late spring cold snap, hell on fruit trees…


That could be said of just about any local area and any local climate, including mine and everyone else here. Somebody will say “Kansas has blizzards!”. I’ll say “so does Alabama”. Why? Look up the blizzard of 1993. Texas has its own soil and climate problems which make large parts unadapted for growing any kinds of fruit.

Maybe there should be a definition:

  1. Prime = near perfect conditions to grow pears
  2. Average = requires multiple adaptations to grow pears
  3. Below average = requires multiple modifications such as irrigation, soil preparation, and variety selection to grow pears
  4. Marginal = difficult to grow pears, Alaska conditions being an example, can be done, takes a lot of effort
  5. Impossible = like trying to grow pears on the dark side of the moon. No atmosphere.

I’d put your pear growing conditions in the “average” category. You might argue down to “below average”.

I have my issues with swamp coolers. They are generally installed in older buildings it seems. Swamp coolers are way less practical than air conditioning. My first post office was a swamp cooler and so is this office I am now. They turned off my swamp cooler in August and were just starting to talk about turning it back on in July in my first post office. By the time they would have turned it on it would have to be turned back off. It is almost June and my office still has yet to put guys in charge of turning on the swamp cooler. I am sure it is the same with a home too. I am on month 3 of waiting for my electrician to come and install the wiring for the outlet for my EV. Only reason I am waiting this long is he is cheap and he is trusted by my family. Thing about Kansas and Missouri is they have far longer seasons than we do in the Denver metro area. I am already seeing people talk about things like harvesting squash and my area is just now warm enough to grow annuals and perennials are just now coming out or are soon to come out hopefully.


I didn’t know swamp coolers were still around! :flushed: I knew them from the early 60’s, air conditioners were rapidly replacing them. I wouldn’t mess with either, anymore. High efficiency scroll type mini-splits are fantastic and steadily improving!
I lived in Greeley area in the late 60’s, remember the short growing season all to well…:face_with_diagonal_mouth:

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When i bought this place and saId i was going to grow fruit several people literally erupted in laughter. Can’t blame them noone is growing pear orchards here. Anything you want to overcome you can. In Alaska a greenhouse might be your only option. @fruitnut went with a greenhouse in Texas and never looked back. Once i overcame the rootstock problem my biggest problems were over. Land being considered marginal is not to say you can’t do it. It just means you have to work at it a little bit. Nothing fits into category 5 technically. In the desert they grow melons using burms and swells. Similar techniques are used all over now. In Kansas we terrace everything and use hedgerows etc. . The dirty thirties taught the people of Kansas what mistakes in agriculture could cause. We don’t even think about it now we terrace everything. Fireblight resistant pears are a must here. In a place that is perfect for pears they grow the hottest types for resale which are comice, bartlett, anjou , and bosc. Good climate without late spring freezes etc. are a must in a perfect pear growing area. The current definition of marginal may change as better pear varities to replace the old favorites are released.


I’ve used one cooler in both CA and TX for 23 years. Moved it here from CA. It cools my 1200 sqft home more than adequately. Usually I can’t run it nonstop because it’s too cold. So that’s like $40-50 per yr ownership cost. Operating cost is likely way lower than a minisplit. Not sure on the later but I cool both my house and a 1700 sqft greenhouse for less than $100 a month in summer. Both evaporative cooling.

Ya, maybe if you don’t have to pay for anything. Swamp coolers are just the ticket for CO if one has any concern about cost.


Swamp coolers just don’t work in humid area’s, desert SW naturally is perfect for them. Greenhouse’s still use that setup around here but they don’t accomplish much except adding humidity. Our summers easily 50% to 90% humidity on regular basis.
I remember liking the cool, humid feel of the house when growing up in a low-humidity climate.

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When you are having your employees sweat like crazy to save a few bucks you have employees that smell like a water buffalo even with deodorant. Plus we had customers constantly complaining about the heat. That is not the place customers want to be. My electrical bill all together is 150 a month and our house is something like 3k feet. Somehow neighbors around us pay 500 but I am not sure how they rack up those bills on electricity.

You have swamp coolers in older places that do not update. My first post office had a swamp cooler but an employee destroyed everything in that post office and it was never fixed. We had bug issues in that post office and that never got fixed. A lot of stores honestly get heated remotely now. When I was at Home Depot I know they heated their stores remotely. Houses have switched to the AC system with a thermostat if they are updated. I know some of our houses here are heated with propane still. Talk about expensive. I don’t recommend buying houses in the mountains here in CO because so many of those houses are propane systems for heating with well water.


You could have slipped “pig sty” into that phrase somewhere. Something like “smell like a water buffalo wandering through a pig sty”.

On a more topic oriented tangent, is there a serious pear breeding program anywhere in the U.S.?

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There is Rooting out solutions for pear growers - Good Fruit Grower and Breeding Program – Pear Rootstocks | WSU Tree Fruit | Washington State University and 2022 Fresh and Processed Pear Committee Research Grant Awards | WSU Tree Fruit | Washington State University

As you saw in the article they claim rootstock is slowing down research which seems accurate WSU researcher explores pear breeding options

Other locations
" CREA Forlì

New pear varieties to relaunch the sector

When it comes to pears, varietal innovation goes through CREA. The latest cultivar to be introduced is called CREA 194. “It derives from Carmen pears and boasts constant high productivity, so much so that thinning is necessary at times,” reports researcher Giuseppina Caracciolo from CREA (Centro di ricerca Olivicoltura, Frutticoltura e Agrumicoltura) in Forlì.

The new CREA 194 variety

“Fruits are medium-large, with a yellow-green color and a red overcolor on 30-40% of the surface. Medium-fine flesh which is juicy, sweet and aromatic. Resistance to handling and shelf-life are higher than those of Carmen. Geoplant Vivai was granted the exclusive multiplication and commercialization license for this new variety.”

Just as with apples, there is a lot of interest for red-fleshed pears too (see photo below). Some ancient varieties found on the Romagna hills, known as “Cocomerine”, boast a red flesh. There are two types - one ripens early (August), while the other is late (early Autumn). In 2003, these pears received the Slow Food recognition thanks to the oxidant compounds that convey great anti-inflammatory properties. CREA carried out a few crossbreeds with “Cocomerine” pears, obtaining some new lines that boast interesting organoleptic qualities and a red flesh. The first experimental tests are currently underway.

Red-fleshed varieties

“Carmen is definitely the most successful variety, as it becomes available around 20 days earlier than other high-quality pears.”


"Another important variety is Falstaff, which is easily recognizable due to its oblong shape reminiscent of that of Abate Fetél and a red color on over 50% of the surface. Orchards cover 100 hectares in Emilia Romagna. The variety, obtained by CREA and protected by a Community design, is managed by New Plant.

So far, 8 varieties have been obtained: Tosca (1993), Carmen*, Norma e Turandot* (2000), Aida* and Bohème* (2003), Falstaff* (2012) and CREA 194* (2019). Since 2008, the program has been co-financed by New Plant, a consortium that gathers three POs in Emilia-Romagna (Apo Conerpo, Apofruit Italia e Orogel Fresco) for the search of new fruit varieties which produces over half of pears in Emilia-Romagna. As part of the program, New Plant and CREA identify the most promising selections among those in first-level fields in Maglaino di Forlì, which are the assessed by two controlled companies monitored directly by New Plant. Only the best lines will proceed to the phitosanitary checks and go on to become a new variety.

Publication date: Mon 18 Oct 2021"

For cold weather areas

Disease resistance

There is more going on but that is a place to start. Eg.,Gras%20pear%2C%20in%20February%202023.

We know Bell was planting 2000-3000 pears a year so expect a lot more to come soon. It takes 10 years then 10+ years to evaluate (sometimes faster) Pear breeding moves toward better varieties - Good Fruit Grower


I might as well go all in on apricot trees. At least then I would have just as good of chance getting fruit as apples and pears :slight_smile: Once every X years… where X seems too high usually. Or perhaps I will learn to eat apple size hail. Sounds like Alaska might be the perfect place to grow pears.

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From my understanding some apricot trees are likely to bloom later than others. Montrose and Chinese mormon both have sweet pits, are supposed to have nice tasting flesh and are supposed to be hardy to zone 4 as well as bloom later. Cultivar is key in cold areas. The issue I hear with apricots is they do not do well in rainy areas so east Kansas would not be good for them.

Even “late” blooming apricots are a waste of space here. Like a once every 10 or 20 year lightning strike, lottery win. Unless grown in a bubble. Maybe the name for a new apricot. “Bubble boy” apricot.

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High tunnel with dwarfed fruit trees? Something I’d considered, myself.


I’m not sure of the best answer. Probably wheat :slight_smile: We got hit by 16F when the apples and pears were blooming so another year lost. I don’t have to worry about thinning biennial apples. If they ever produce, I just let them go gangbusters because they wouldn’t make a crop because of bad weather the next year anyway.


Montrose apricot is from Montrose CO so clearly it was bearing in CO and I have an apricot that blooms too. My apricot is not a lot of flesh like at the grocery store and it has a very high tang but it bears every year and is no spray. Fruit is often taken off quickly by the squirrels but that is any fruit in my experience. Even with netting squirrels figure out a way under and out. Clearly there are some apricots that do well. Montrose is southern CO but it is not in a region like palisade so I doubt it is too much of a microclimate.


Different killer climate here. Unfortunately we get some extreme temp variability that won’t allow any apricot variety to work consistently regardless of their supposed frost tolerance. They are waste of space unless they are very protected (like perhaps tucked up tight against the north side of house in a protected yard in the hopes bloom can be delayed). It’s not that uncommon to have 80F in Feb even at my more “northern” location. The early high temps make things wake up early. Prior to the 16F, we had several days over 90F. Things wake up (including apricots in full bloom), and whammo! Dead blooms. No apricot will take that. Pears and apples wake up a bit later but still get wiped out too often. What doesn’t get frozen can get hailed or blown away. I’ve had hail damage on the bottom side of apple branches because the 100mph wind blew the branches up vertical and the horizontal hail split open the bark. No direct hits from tornadoes yet, thankfully. The plains states can be real hard for growing fruit, or even surviving as humans. I know I’m not the only region that suffers from these issues, but it’s frustrating.

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