I could use a hand identifying a pear tree. I’m located in Northern Maine’s Aroostook County, and a friend showed me a pair of pear trees her late husband had brought back from a trucking run and planted in a low spot on their farm some 15 years prior. The two trees were planted in a low area surrounded by other trees except to the immediate south, and have grown tall and thin, with the majority of the branches growing toward the south. The second pear tree’s sunlight has been somewhat blocked by the pear tree directly south of it, which is taller. I took photos on October 24th, and the foliage was still largely green and glossy, and was just starting to turn yellow and reddish. Both trees have similar foliage and fruit.
The pears were still on the trees, and were somewhat misshapen, with a reddish blush on the sunny side and a greenish-yellow underside with small spots. There were areas of the fruit that looked sunken or collapsed. I picked some, and brought them inside and ripened them at room temperature in a brown paper bag for a little over two weeks.
On November 9th I tried some of the fruit and found them to be extremely sweet, and tasted like fruit punch. The pears had ripened to more of a yellow with a red blush, and had softened some, but were not mushy. There were very few mature seeds in the fruit, which makes me think they were not fully fertilized, which caused the sort of incomplete, collapsed fruit shape. The fruit had some large grit cells, and if I recall correctly the skin was kind of thick. The taste was extremely fruity and sweet.
What do you think I have here? Maybe a particularly cold-hardy, late-bearing version of the Seckel?Maybe one of the Pyrus Ussuriensis crossbreeds? I saw no sign of fireblight. I’m thinking the variety needs a pollen partner to set more and better filled-out fruit. The fruit was on the tree VERY late (October 24th) and the trees were cold hardy enough to survive several Zone 3/Zone 4 Maine winters completely neglected. We had a -35 F overnight last winter, and this spring the pair of trees have showed no sign of damage yet, but they’re just budding.
hey Donny. im 2hrs. north of you in Frenchville. i have 6 z3 hardy pear varieties growing on mountain ash here but they havent fruited yet. have you heard of the stacyville pear? its a 150 yr old tree from the same town. fedco sells the scions for it. i have it on my tree. i dont think what you have is that though. its more a round pear. a friend of mine has a small pear like that on a tree his dad planted 30 yrs ago in violette settlement in Ft. Kent. ive tried them in sept and they are still astringent but slightly sweet… never went back to try them after frost. this tree hasnt been touched for over 30 yrs and was loaded with small pears looking like yours in the mid. of your pic. i dont think its ever been sprayed or pruned either. his dad used to own the local nursery back then. i need to get over there next oct. to try them out again.
I’d be interested in that pear from Violette Settlement! I’m in Monticello, and my farm is on the border of Monticello and Bridgewater. These ones I found are just south of Monticello, in Littleton, and are extremely late-bearing, and extremely sweet, like nothing I’d ever tasted. You know, if you’d like to meet sometime, I could probably learn a lot from you. -Donny
Thanks! Maybe? I just read that the Ayers’ fruit time gets later in the season the further north it is, and we certainly are far north. Funny, I was going to buy a couple of Ayers at the local Lowes but was afraid they’d freeze out.
The photos on this site are kind of dim, but the tree shape and fruit do look similar. And it says they are a not a strong self-pollinator.
It’s possible it’s not ayers. We are going down the list of what we know it is but if those blooms match it would be hard evidence. Ayers is supposed to be zone 5 but has anyone tried colder zones? Could it be ten or another from the same program in Tennessee? Sometimes siblings, parents etc to a pear are similar.
See those dots on the blushed skin? The size of the fruit is the right size. Those characteristics are extremely unique as well. As a matter of fact never saw another pear with all the characteristics we identified that wasn’t the pear we were suspecting it is. The question remaining is how could it be ayers in that cold zone?
I have learned over the years that what is winter hardy at SLN’s location does not necessarily equate to what is winter hardy here, even though our USDA zones are the same. They get more consistent and heavier snow cover than I do.
Good find as we were suspecting the pear information was wrong on many websites. SLN reports it survives cold winters like you said. They said its “Extremely Hardy (-50F or Colder) to Very Hardy (to -50F with occasional winter injury)” . This mystery appears to be solved.
I can assure you it is not hardy to -30 in central MN. I’m not sure the last time SLN saw -50, but doubt it was any time recently. I take their hardiness ratings with a huge grain of salt. That said, I’d believe an Ayers pear could survive in northern ME if it was proven to me.
edit…also not quite sure how a pear that ripens in early September at SLN’s location is still hanging on the tree in late October in northern ME.
Pears ripen at different times on these cold years. Winter hung around and extra month or two for us so all my pears ripened a month later. My guess is you all had the same experience. If they ripen normally for me in August then yours ripen in September. That makes them getting ripe right on time in October if your winter hung around like ours did. This year they should ripen earlier. See how late everything was Here comes the 2021 Apple and pear harvest! . Went back and checked and sure enough they ripened in September this last year Ayers pear!
Thanks! I forgot to mention the fruit bunching, which I thought was odd, and not like any pear I had seen. Compared to your Ayers, with the similarities if the spots on the fruit, the red blush, and the bunching I think it’s a likely match. How’s the flavor, and do your pears have grit cells?
Thanks for the help! We’re probably about the same latitude here in Maine, at 46.26 degrees, as you are in Minnesota, and our elevation is about 500’. We’re far enough off the coast that we don’t have any large bodies of water nearby to effect the climate, and the prevailing wind doesn’t come across any bodies of water. I agree that Potsdam, NY likely hasn’t seen -50 in quite some time, and winter 2022’s -35 overnight here is the coldest air temperature I can remember.
I checked Weather.gov’s coldest temp site for the two nearby recording areas, Bridgewater and Houlton AP, averaged them (we’re about midway north-south) and found the record coldest temp was about -38, twice, in January 2009. That January also had at least three consecutive days -30 or colder, and I think those trees were in the ground by then. I ran the numbers again since 2010, and we had two record lows in the -30s, -31 and -33, and as many as 32 days -20 or colder.
I’ll ask to make sure when those trees were planted, but they seem to be cold survivors.
45.9747° here. We hit -30 most winters. The coldest I’ve personally recorded was -38 a couple years ago. -35 was the coldest this year. The year I recorded -38 a number of folks in the general area recorded -40 to -42. We get many, many days of -20 to -28 regularly. What kills many fruit trees here is when we get temps like those without much snow cover.
Our winters sound comparable. And that’s what I forgot to mention, in recent years our snow cover is very, ah, “robust” by the time we experience anything like -10, so typically I’m not too concerned about the roots. There were recent years we’ve received 18" of snow in mid-November before the ground took any frost at all, and then plenty of snow after that, and as a result the ground remained mostly frost-free through the winter. This year, the ground took some frost because we had a mild fall and not any meaningful snow if at all until after mid-December.
Is it possible or likely these two trees I’m asking about are Shipova, the Sourbus/Pyrus hybrid? I’d think the Sorbus parentage would provide more cold hardiness, they supposedly don’t self-pollinate well, seeds are rare, and the fruit is blushed, bunched, sweet, and relatively small.