One ugly pear. What would you do?

Edit June 2021: New question, below in post 9.

2020: Below is a pear-tree that was planted by the former property owner. It did actually bear a few pears this last year, though we only beat the wildlife to a couple of them and didn’t ripen them appropriately. It seemed they had potential; I thought I had picture of the fruit, but can’t find it.

It’s quite an ugly tree, what I’d call a flag tree, with all branches pointing to the west. About 15’ to the east is a big austrian pine. Currently it has fire blight throughout, as we had a wretched hail storm in 2018, and I haven’t had time to deal with it. I feel like the smaller bifurcated trunk should be removed, as it’s a very weak and poor crotch… funny thing is that the smaller trunk that actually has some new growth down low, which can be weighted to horizontal.

Eventually we would like to extend the garden, possibly through this area, which means it would probably eventually go. To try my hand at grafting apples, I ordered a few scions from masonville orchard, and figured, why not experiment on the pear. I added a few scions of ubileen and parker.

It’s just starting to leaf out. What would you do if this was your tree?


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The closeness to the big pine tree, sequoia, or whatever it is…is why the pear is somewhat one-sided. Selectively remove just a few limbs and try it out a couple years is what I’d do…see if the fruit is worth something. (April/May really isn’t the right time to remove major limbs, for various reasons.)

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I’d be worried about keeping a tree with fireblight at all. Given that your commitment to this tree seems a little half-hearted, maybe you could consider removing it and planting the pear you really want in a better location.

If you feel like you want to deal with the FB then I’d go ahead with @BlueBerry’s approach.

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Thanks for the thoughts. I probably won’t remove it yet. Fire blight is pretty common here, and pears and apples generally have to be fire blight resistant, or they will succumb to it. The reason this tree has so much blight (as with my larger apple) is that we had a really bad hail storm, at a really bad time, followed by wet weather. I suspect many pears and apples here got it after the event.

**My question is probably more about if I was going to improve the structure through heavy pruning/adjustments and grafting, how would you go about it? **

I feel like it’s height needs to be reduced significantly at this point to make it manageable (it’s probably 16’+) and possibly removal of this narrower trunk, which has a bad and narrow crotch that kind of forms what looks like a bit of a helical structure. That trunk happens to be the one that has a couple horizontals growing in the direction there are no branches.


Nasty hail! I hope your pear throws off the FB easily -they can, for sure.

I can see removing the smaller trunk; it never should have been allowed in the first place. And I think the tree is too tall, so I’d get rid of those verticals that take off straight up. After that I’d want to step back and think about it for a while, but certainly I’d be encouraging any new growth, especially from those higher branches, to bend down to no more than horizontal, maybe lower.

But that’s me, and there are much better pruners around here than I!

Many pear trees want to grow vertical.

You can change them, but you put out a lot of energy doing so…when they have a mind of their own.

Yeah… they love vertical. Is there anything I can do, even if it is brutal, that would shorten up the tree and cause this tree to fresh shoots down low? I have heard of people basically cutting a tree to a stump and grafting to that, and am wondering if there are any approaches between.


So first of all I’m not professional so my advice is just what I would do…

First of all I would prune all the straight-up-shoots … then I would do a standard pruning… taking out branches which compete with others… take out branches which take away to much sun etc. Again I’m not professional…

What I really would consider is taking out the big branch close to the ground which competes with the main branch… there is a possibility that the tree will break at this point at one time… also it just takes away a lot of energy…

I add a photo how I would prune it…(really rough sketch … of course you have to decide from one branch to the next one where exactly you want to cut it … also the straight-up-branches need to be pruned directly at the branch)8A2C1CE6-D0A2-49FC-92CB-B0803C334EA0

Bringing this thread back to life. Since I originally posted, the side 3" limb with a nasty crotch angle was removed, and last year it sprouted at 3 lower locations, and I grafted them. More sprouts this year. This spring, that pine (shown above) went away to make space for the orchard.

This year is a good year on the front range, and the first time it has fruited significantly, with hundreds of pears marble size currently… I’ve already started to bag some.

I did not get to shortening the tree over the winter, and given the pear production, it will be impossible to thin the tree at 20’ tall. I’m planning on decapitating it to about 11’, as shown below, unless someone thinks I need to wait until the end of the season, given the fruit (or other reasons). Thoughts?


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If you have the feeling that the tree grows too fast you can cut it in late july/August. This will slow it’s growth but probably means a lot of Stress for the tree since you take out a big chunk… i would just let it grow as it is until February/March/April and then do a proper cut (taking out all the Branches which shoot straight etc. and cutting the big branch you marked). This will enhance the growth of the tree and probably result in a big Harvest…

by the way when you cut the big branch dont cut it anywhere… cut it where the smaller branch below it grows out of the big branch. The smaller branch will then become the New “main”-branch

Turns out the tree produces good, sweet fruit! Bartlett, I believe – which is interesting, as Fireblight here is an issue, though the tree has some (not lots). Very little thinning, 1 (late) spray of surround, and almost no watering. Now I just need to protect the buds from late frosts to get a repeat! Since I could not find this information previously for Colorado:I harvested these (likey bartletts) on two dates - Sept 9th and Sept 18th. The ones on the 18th are definitely harvested at a good time.

I had already cut the tree down before the prior response, and I think it is already much better for a small orchard. Maintainable with a 6’ ladder now. The summer cutting also forced it to send out a lot of shoots low on the trunk, where they are needed (since the tree was a flag tree previously). And the removal of the pine certainly helped.

Last year I grafted Ubileen, Parker, Seckel. This year, I added Harrrow Sweet, Harrow Delight. Next year I’ll have to decide if I continue to graft the new lower growth or let it go, given pears are good, but not necessarily reliable.

Does anyone have Clark’s Small yellow Pear, where I could get some scion wood this winter?