Favor for a friend - Top working Pears!


A friend has some property where a trailer sat at one time and there are some wild pear trees there that are undoubtedly seedlings of the original ornamental pear. My part was go make the best of the situation so I thought I might document with photos what I did to the largest pear.

History of the Bradford Pear
Grafting fruiting scion onto ornamental trees?
T-budding tutorial
Attempting to Graft onto a Cleveland Pear
Grafting on Bradford Pear


Sorry about that … well, maybe a little …



Nice topworked Clark. That seedling pear got some big thorns that drawn blood.



I swear that the pear I top worked had almost a poison in the thorns, every little poke it gave me hurt for a long time. Great set of photos Clark , really good instruction for someone wanting to top work a pear.


Here are a couple of pictures of the ground around the pear tree. Gives you an idea of the area. I’m not allergic in most cases but I’m still as careful as I can be.


I was never alergic to poison Ivey but I had a bad burn ten years ago and where I was burned I became sensitive to poison Ivey, I think your sinsitivity changes with age too,


Yes my family said I will lose my resistance to poison ivy in a few years. No one knows why that is exactly. For now I’m getting by. The bad burn was from work? Burns are about as painful as things get. Had my entire belly burned when I was 3 years old but did not get scarring or long term problems.


That’s funny!
Thank you those type of trees do require a little blood and sweat when top working.
Yes some pears do seem to have a little poison in their thorns. Cactus and blackberries feel that way as well. Fortunately this pear is very thorny but the thorns do not seem to cause anything more than scratches. The hardest part is cutting the initial path in towards the trunk to reshape the tree. The callery trunks are really something! These trees are completely neglected never sprayed or taken care of in any way. Completely immune to fireblight which I find impossible to believe and yet it’s true.


This tree grew there at least 9 years with virtually no diseases besides leaf spot. Counted rings on the largest branch I removed. That branch was high up so the tree may be close to 20-25 years old. The 9 rings are hard to see in this picture but you can read the droughts and the wet years just like a history book. Interesting how much we can tell about things from one tree.


Nice work!
I recently topworked a semi-mature plum (that was purchased and planted but had either died back to the rootstock or was a mislabeled wild plum) about a week ago. I chose 6 well-spaced branches as the framework and cleft grafted 6 varieties of Euro plum. I feel like I should have got to it much earlier in the season but hopefully it will be okay. We’ll see, I haven’t ever cleft grafted or radically topworked a tree like that, but your post gives me hope!



Thank you here is some top working I did in 2016 Top working Pears weather permitting. If I get a chance to top work a callery pear over I usually do it. It really helps the person who’s pear tree it is to have all that fruit in a couple of years. Hope your plums wow you in a couple of years and I bet they will. Post some pictures if you get a chance since not to many people top work large trees. It really helps new grafters and inspires the ones who’ve been doing it for years and putting off the inevitable tree needing top worked.


My friend is pleased with the results. Many of the grafts I made that day are taking. One of these days I need to do a follow up. That might be a awhile. Any leafing out the wild callery rootstocks do for awhile I need to remove so maybe I’ll take a few pictures at that time. I’ve removed the new growth once since I top worked this one. I did a bunch of smaller trees there at the same time.


Well I did a lot of work and unfortunately the storm undid some of it. This morning there were plenty of broke off grafts that happened over the last two days. Not every graft was broke off but some were! Some grafts look fine.


No doubt that Mother Nature is our best friend, but she does sometimes take a bit more initiative than we might want …



Very nice. What did you graft to the wild callery?


Tenn, Spalding, and hood.