Growing pears in marginal areas

People frequently tell me they have no suitable place to grow pears. This thread is about growing pears where you were never supposed to be able to grow them. One part of my property is solid clay. In the summer it’s dry and cracks open but in the spring it formed a swamp. Added a terrace and cut a drain and now can use every part for growing pears. 20 years ago when I worked on this the old timers mentioned it could not even grow grass let alone fruit. Never used any fertilizer. These are BET rootstocks that need grafted over. If you look closely at the photo you will see my strategy. That water is good for my orchard. Water will come in handy for watering my trees right there.


;0 :slightly_smiling_face:

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The pears sit up there on that little hill pulling in water and getting bigger. Sometimes my pears double their height in a year with no fertilizer. The first year the tree sleeps , second year it creeps, 3rd year it leaps, It is all about the rootstock.


After the summer drought and water used for irrigation my ponds were lower, enough so to dry 10’ of the edge, minimizing total area of the water. Planning on doing the back hoe build up of the banks to creatw that hill drain sponge effect. Go with the flo!

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Define marginal area. I mean my soil is waaaaay beyond marginal, but then again if I’m willing to work it I can turn it into ideal+. If you get marginal water and are heavily restricted with both collection and irrigation, it is still doable but you them start hitting real problems as opposed to surmountable inconveniences.

If you are in a place that is too cold, or too warm, with horrid soil, bad drainage, no water, too much water, too shady, ungodly insect pressure, moose, deer, bears, and tons of diseases on nearby native trees that are compatible with your trees, at that point we are then talking varsity level marginal conditions.

Still doable dang it :smiley:


The nice thing about pears is they are better at tolerating marginal conditions better than apples or other trees.


Don’t recall anyone asking…so I’ll ask here::::Are pears affected any by ‘replant disease’ in the manner apples are?

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Yes they can get it. Here is a good link Replant Disease - Cummins Nursery - Fruit Trees, Scions, and Rootstocks for Apples, Pears, Cherries, Plums, Peaches, and Nectarines.

General description Specific replant disease - Wikipedia

" Replant disease is a sickness caused by a complex of soil-born pathogens that consists of fungi, oomycetes or “water molds,” and nematodes. This disease overlaps with phytophthora, as the phytophthora oomycetes are part of the complex of replant disease.


Sickly, stunted trees with shortened internodes; necrotic, discolored and stunted roots.

Organic Treatments

Replant disease can be avoided by alternating pome (apple or pear) and stone trees through the same site. But what if you only want apple trees? Understandable. In this case, you should choose rootstocks that are resistant to replant disease: any of the Geneva series with the exception of G.222. The highest tolerance is found in G.41. Additionally, choose well-drained sites whenever possible and add organic matter to your soil to maintain its health and minimize compaction. Finally, the spread of harmful nematodes is largely caused by root disturbance when removing old or dead trees. Cutting the tree to a stump and leaving roots undisturbed will significantly reduce replant disease risk.

Conventional Treatments

Same as organic treatments.

Disease Cycle

Replant disease is a sickness caused by a complex of soil-born pathogens that consists of fungi, oomycetes or “water molds,” and nematodes. This disease overlaps with phytophthora, as the phytophthora oomycetes are part of the complex of replant disease. Replant disease, also known as sick soil syndrome, soil exhaustion, and replant disorder can affect the root systems of both pome fruits and stone fruits. While names like “soil exhaustion” suggest depletion, the cause of the problem is actually a witches brew of pathogens present in the soil. It is typically encountered when a site is replanted “like after like” (a pear or apple replacing a pear or apple, or any stone fruit replacing a stone fruit).

Symptoms will be visible shortly after a new tree is planted. A sickened tree will appear stunted, often with shortened internodes (the spaces between buds), and it may die within the first year. Trees that survive will remain stunted and suffer from low productivity. When dug up, afflicted trees show discolored, necrotic, or stunted roots.

For more information, see A Growers Guide to Organic Apples from the Cornell Cooperative Extension."
organic-apples-NYSIPM.pdf (1.3 MB)

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Marginal means your on the fence of not being able to grow them for some reason. Many locations just go plant pears and they are easy to grow.

Perhaps you want to use the word “edge” instead of “fence” since a there’s probably a lot of fruit trees (or brush/trees in general) growing by fences since it’s hard to mow there. : )

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North Dakota is a marginal area for pear growing. I came across this yesterday while searching for info on Kaspar Winter pear.
Pears in North Dakota.pdf (

They say Kaspar Winter wasn’t doing well and is probably not hardy. Time will tell here.

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So, mulberries, jujubes, pawpaw, cherries, persimmons should work in place of apples?
But pears are too akin to apples and are affected by the same replant issues I take it.

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Do you have an specific disease in your area you are specifically concerned about? Just because the possibility of something exists doesn’t mean you have to worry about it if you haven’t encounter the issue before.

As a human it would be very easy for you to catch ebola, that stuff is super contagious. Chances are you don’t have to worry about it because there should not be any of that on your neck of the woods.

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Marginal areas? I’m debating whether to put my fig tree or a pear in one of the ugliest soil area, competing with multiple aggressive root trees from my neighbor’s yard.


Have you thought of a ‘raised bed’? Doesn’t have to be fancy…a stone circle, or even a little bed and no edging or plastic edging. Could be 4 to 8 inches of new fresh dirt added (or more).
Such make nice planting areas under marginal situations.

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It’s already in a raised bed, but I-will try some of that idea too, thanks for mentioning it.

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