Pear trees that produce bushels of fruit and avoid disease


#1

My idea of growing pears is to produce as much fruit as I can while avoiding as many diseases as I can. Pears are not always very aesthetically pleasing to look at. It can take a lesson in patience at times to not prune them severely to shape them up. Through the years I’ve learned tolerance so most of my pear trees look something like this one.


At some point I realized pruning in summer causes diseases. Pruning pears is not a great idea at all unless there is a problem. Pears send tons of straight up growth to retaliate for every pruning cut you make. How many fruit buds get knocked off when your pruning? How many fruit buds do you lose when you remove a large branch? Pear trees are difficult to shape. Many people plan to cut the top off their pear this year to keep its height under control but I would advise against it. Pear trees always send up a lot of suckers (vegetative growth) in response to losing wood which takes away from fruit. Those suckers are waisted growth and will not benefit the tree in any way. Next year the pruner does the same thing and the tree responds the same way. Many pear growers are locked in a battle with a pear tree that will never result in fruit. Instead of topping pear trees try to gradually bend the branches as they grow. In the end if you bought a standard pear tree it will get tall. The best way to keep a pear short is by producing lots of fruit and not by pruning. Wanted to post this before anyone’s pear trees went dormant and the saws come out. There are a couple of my trees that I’m down right ashamed to show anyone that produce bountiful harvests of pears.


Heavy pruning = Heavy pruning
How much does heading back pears slow bearing?
#2

There are lots of pros and cons to the questions you’ve raised. First of all,
stick to varieties that you know are highly disease resistant, which is to me,
the main deciding factor in choosing what I grow. I would never grow a variety that I know is going to be a pain in the neck for me. I don’t need the extra work and aggravation. Secondly, I try to do as much research as possible, in deciding which varieties meet my personal tastes. Once you’ve done those two primary things, then you decide from where to purchase the trees and mainly, whether or not you can get them on semi-dwarfing root stock, in order to reduce the over all pruning of the tree. This is definitely
the way to go, because it eliminates the tree in your picture. All but two of my pears are on OHxF97, and they require hardly any pruning at all. But the first two varieties that I bought were only available as standards, and they require annual pruning, which is a fact of life, when growing pears on standard root stock. I prune all of my pears to an open vase system, after I’ve trained them to grow as laterally as possible. The tree in your picture needs severe pruning and was never trained to grow laterally. You must like climbing a ladder in order to pick the fruit. That’s something i don’t care to do. I also NEVER spray any of my pears, since they have no disease.


#3

Something else I wanted to mention is that viruses and bacteria frequently are transferred through cuts so the spreading agents are pruning and insects typically. Pears in my experience do not need invigorated very often like an apple. A pear growing on this property unattended for over 100 years was still producing large amounts of small course fruit. I trimmed out the dead branches when I saw the tree and tipped the old branches. The former owner did not know about the tree but did know about the people who built the pond and dug the well that likely planted the pear. I think they did it because they planted the pear on the pond dam they built. Their house fell down finally in the 1940’s or 50’s. They owned the property originally in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s is my understanding. Pears literally will be growing for your heirs when grown correctly. Pear production goes up every year until the tree eventually starts to die from old age. In my lifetime I’ve never saw a pear die of old age I removed that old one to work on the pond. Pears will get more valuable because there is a large investment in time to grow them.


#4

I would beg to disagree. First, say what diseases- I assume you are talking about fireblight only. I’m not sure summer pruning encourages this at all- as long as you time it during a dry stretch when the temps are too high to encourage it. I’ve had FB strike after summer pruning but I wasn’t careful about my timing- in the future I will be.

Pruning is essential to keep a manageable tree with good yields in ratio to space. I’ve seen neglected pears reach a columnar 70 ft- beautiful for the blooms but lousy for the fruit.

Different varieties of pears respond differently to pruning- I’ve read that fruitfulness of some varieties require aggressive pruning, although I don’t know if this is true, but it was commercial guidance from a university source (for whatever that’s worth).

The judicious limiting of scaffolds and height and more horizontal training of branches is the way I want to go with pears and most other fruit. Spreading branches probably reduces the threat of fireblight by reducing vigor. Thinning branches does not increase vigor so except during high pressure there is no reason not to do this in my book. But I don’t live in as FB encouraging of a region as you do.

Left to their own devices some variety of pears will not bear until they are 12 years old.


#5

Alan,

" I’m not sure summer pruning encourages this at all- as long as you time it during a dry stretch when the temps are too high to encourage it."

It may not be the same in all places but for me I’ve killed several pears from summer pruning when they were then infected with fireblight. Fireblight here does not always know the rules. I was shocked when it happened. I realize our weather is subject to significant swings that don’t occur everywhere. It will happen here on susceptible varieties at times when it should not. It is the biggest threat in my area at this time. There are lots of diseases spread by pruning. These are all the pear diseases I know of and then a few more I did not know about https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pear_diseases. The diseases I fear the most are viruses such as this suspected one I don’t currently have because the fruit becomes unsellable http://www.caf.wvu.edu/kearneysville/disease_descriptions/omstnypt.html. They don’t know how some diseases are spread and cannot isolate the disease. Best to leave the blades off my trees unless I need to do something. They produce a lot of pears now so why do anything to change that.

“Pruning is essential to keep a manageable tree with good yields in ratio to space. I’ve seen neglected pears reach a columnar 70 ft- beautiful for the blooms but lousy for the fruit.”

If someone wants a very small pear tree why not plant one on ohxf333 rootstock in the first place? In this area they prune to try to control what should have been done by planting the right tree. Bottom line for me a 30’ tree produces 5 times more pears than an 10’ tree and takes up the same space. If you spread the branches properly while it’s growing what needs pruned later? That tree in the picture I posted was the red bartletts I posted this year and it did take 12 years to produce fruit. It’s produces a reliable crop. My plan from beginning to end is lots of fruit. I see people in my area all the time prune off half their tree and spend the next few years shaping it up while I’m harvesting 5 times the fruit the entire time every year. I think what your saying is proper pruning is needed to control a monster tree like a harbin rootstock. That’s a different ball game from a callery or ohxf rootstock. When I plant Pyrus betulifolia I graft Asian pears to them and we will see how that works out long term.

“Different varieties of pears respond differently to pruning- I’ve read that fruitfulness of some varieties require aggressive pruning, although I don’t know if this is true, but it was commercial guidance from a university source (for whatever that’s worth).”

I’ve never saw any of my pears require pruning to produce fruits but I can’t disprove some pears do that either.

“The judicious limiting of scaffolds and height and more horizontal training of branches is the way I want to go with pears and most other fruit. Spreading branches probably reduces the threat of fireblight by reducing vigor. Thinning branches does not increase vigor so except during high pressure there is no reason not to do this in my book. But I don’t live in as FB encouraging of a region as you do.”

I agree 100% with you Alan on that. I suspect your pear trees in your area are more vigorous likely due to more water and better soil. The fire blight pressure is likely reduced. Many things I’ve learned from you and others from this forum and I have a deep respect for your opinion. What I said was based on my own experiences in my own area which is all many of us have to go by. I’m glad you brought those points up. A 70’ pear tree would be a terrible thing to try to keep under control. Someone could move to a home and inherit someone else’s problems from the pear trees they planted which is a point I had not considered.


#6

I know that region is very important, and tried to suggest that in my comment.

Even how rootstocks respond and perform is partially regional. I wouldn’t want to grow 333 here because I want more vigor during establishment.

Really, the only pear I need is Harrow Sweet because it is precocious, delicious (higher sugar than Bartlett), disease and psyla resistant, and bears every year, unlike most other fall pears here- it also has a beautiful spreading form. Some Seckels are nice for some earlier fruit (and nice form) and I grow a few other varieties for certain varietal differences but HS is my staple pear.

Bosc is one pear much different than other varieties that would be worth growing if it wasn’t so much trouble. It is a magnet for FB, psyla and scab. At some sites around here it does fine but not so much at mine. Haven’t had a good crop from my tree for 4 years.


#7

Rayrose,
You brought up some very valid points. I do like large trees in some situations. That one is in the bottoms close to water and cover. The tree from the picture requires some explanation on my motives. Deer are in the area where that tree grows and I want to keep the tree highly productive but yet I cannot fence off 35 acres well enough to keep all animals out. I don’t mind work so picking from a ladder does not bother me as long as my results are good. Deer can’t climb so even if they are thick that year they will not get those pears. My thoughts were as I retire I want to guarantee a crop of pears if I promise to sell them a month in advance. What happens if I can’t deliver what I promised? Will that store ever buy from me again? I also like the idea of getting many more pears in the same space. Many years that pear tree produces several bushels of pears. Smaller pear trees simply cannot produce like standards. I have pears grafted to ohxf333 now that I’ve got older but I was in my 20’s when I planted that tree. My thought was when I was young I would plant standards and when I was older I would plant dwarfs. That’s my logic and my motives. I knew when I posted the picture it would meet some criticism because it’s a pear and it’s large but it is highly productive.


#8

I think of 97 as having seedling vigor. Maybe something else is in play with your excessive vigor- maybe something I don’t know about.


#9

Alan,
I put in half a dozen harrow delight and a few harrow sweet this year. I can’t wait to see the results. I tried 100 ohxf333 this year and will let you know how they do here. I’ve grafted a variety of different scions on them. When I plant pears I need a lot of different varieties because I can’t sell or harvest them all here at one time. I need to find several more early and late season types to spread out the fruit harvest. When I retire someday I want my orchard mature and highly productive.


#11

Actually, you did hijack the topic- if you start a new one I will be happy to offer my opinion- on pruning, that is. You’re not finding it difficult to do so, are you?


#12

Yes, pears are the big deal to you, while they are a side interest to me. I don’t care how good a pear tastes until about mid-sept when stone fruit starts to wane a bit. I’m not sure if HS stores as well as some other varieties I grow, which may be of importance to you. I know you can get at least 2 months storage out of later ripening varieties, including HS, but some can go much longer.


#13

I would start spreading out the branches. See how those in the center are growing straight up I tie a string to the next tree and pull it down more horizontal but still some vertical. It helps spread the other tree at the same time. I do prune grafts I make to shape them early on in the first year and during the growing season. The tree I lost this year was caused by me doing that. The older trees i wait until their dormant and I prune the very minimum I can get by with. If they get fire blight strikes I prune the strike off asap. When I tie the string I don’t make it tight rather my loop is about 1 foot in diameter. There are some excellent posts on here about that. My perspective is different from others so some would prune to an open center and I will let them advise you on their perspective. The Korean giant has exactly the shape I look for. It will fruit heavily before you know it. The Tennosui has to much bunched up in the center. Here is a side view of a couple of my drippin honey pears.
Edit : Sorry Alan I read your reply to c5tiger after I had responded.


#14

Thanks Alan I’m looking forward to getting those harrow sweet fruiting. I’m growing those largely based on your posts about the excellent quality of those pears.


#15

Sorry, did not mean to get off topic. I think Clark answered what I needed.


#16

This is an excellent thread about pears and well worth reading. You guys know your stuff, thanks!


#17

It’s not a big deal, I know you are a very good sport, Clark and c5tiger, you were polite- I only wanted to nip slightly, not bite, to keep systems working efficiently here. It benefits topics to stand alone- at least when they are still fresh.


#18

I don’t have excessive vigor with 97. That’s why i like it.


#19

Very helpful advice, Clark, thanks.


#20

Thank you Matt.
That’s not to say I don’t prune it’s just to say I strategically prune with a purpose. Crossed branches and other problems need to be removed which will invigorate the tree. The pear fruit buds from one of my trees last year are shown below.


#21

I totally agree with what Alan says, pruning is necessary I would say vital, to control tree vigor, regardless of the variety. For me, the ideal pattern is the franc, for its compatibility and vigor although it has many shortcomings such as being susceptible to disease, in my area is great.

Why pruning is necessary ?. There are several principles:

  1. The air and light food and favor the growth of the organs of branches of a tree.

  2. The highest parts of the branches, are better fed than the lower parts.

  3. The development of vegetative organs and reproductive organs compete with each other.

  4. The different parts of branches are integral to each other

  5. buds located on the branches at locations where the flow of crude wise is important to evolve towards timber production, transforming into outbreaks. Here comes into play summer pruning, in order to eliminate effect of pacifiers and its reduction in the coming years, cutting two buds.

  6. The buds properly fed raw sap, although well provided elaborate sap, transform easily into darts and flower buds.

It also cures winter crop protection products are essential to prevent disease and hatching eggs of parasites that attack the tree in spring.

The problem that Clark poses with deer is difficult to remove, and proposes a vérticarl tree growth, to prevent deer fruit are eaten and broken branches, but extension cord term, Clark will have to collect the fruit with helicopter, the most practical solution it would be the enclosure of the garden with a fence 2 meters high, to prevent deer could enter.

a greeting
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