Pear trees that produce bushels of fruit and avoid disease


#42

That is 63 pounds right there. I haven’t even touched the top of the tree (need a ladder) and the north side of the tree. Last year i picked probably the same. The tree might be 10 years old now. Its amazing how simple pears are to grow. The bees have taken some of the fruit. The birds peck at them a little. Some are already ripe (i ate a few this morning). I also have a bunch of Bartletts and a handful of seedling pears that fruited for the first time. I haven’t touched the Harrow Sweet yet.


#43

Sounds excellent! Duchess is still over a month away. Can’t wait to start seeing fruit off seckle, harrow delight, harrow sweet etc. love to see you make a post with your harvests!


#44

I need to add a late keeper pear. Something like Winter Nellis? I’ll have to study up and seed what would work.


#45

I’m thinking this Seckel is from either '05 or '06…i know i moved it once…so yeah…year 8 or 9 is when the fruit came in big time. Up until then it was light crops for the most part.


#46

What rootstock is that seckle on?


#47

No idea. I believe it was a Gurney’s tree …so whatever they came on back in 2005…


#48

How big is your seckle? If you get a chance would you post pictures of the tree? 8-10 years is about the right amount of time for a good pear harvest. Likely a callery rootstock. Typically the callery rootstocks make a very nice tree.


#49

Congratulations! They look great.


#50

Alan, I wonder where you live (region and climate). The wisdom of pruning a pear tree in summer is likely very dependent on climate. I’m in Georgia, and while summers can be dry like this last one, they are always extremely humid and sometimes it quite literally rains every day. This is especially true in July and August. I’ve looked into summer pruning my pears that grow in the front yard to keep the size down, but to be honest I’m kind of scared to mess with them much that time of year in our hot and humid climate. I do spread my trees and winter prune some. Different varieties seem to respond differently to that. Initially most of them seem to shoot up from where you cut them. But but with my Southern Bartlett and Tenns they seem to mostly infill with water sprouts. It does not look like I will have to top them at all this winter. In contrast my supposedly Baldwing (which looks like a Carnes to me) keeps wanting to go strait up with short Christmas tree like lateral branches. (That growth habit is part of what makes me think its a Carnes along with the round fruit that stays pretty firm.) That’s the tree I may be forced to summer prune. But I’m a little afraid to do it. God bless.


#51

I’m in southern NY state and I’m still feeling my way around this issue. Theoretically, if you prune when the pathogen is not reproducing there shouldn’t be a problem, and by late summer FB has usually done its rounds, and there is time for the wounds to heal (set up defensive walls) before it becomes the major problem in spring. But the advantage is nothing more than a hunch on my part- so you should be cautious. Also summer pruning tends to slow tree vigor over time which should help against FB.

On the positive side of evidence is that it is often suggested that one prune out strikes in summer- so if summer pruning was a major risk it would certainly show up and be understood because of the thousands of commercial growers who have followed this advice for many decades. This is done in orchards and on trees full of innoculum.

On the other hand, the best article I’ve ever read on FB suggested leaving stubs when cutting out strikes and removing them in winter. I don’t know if this was based on the writers hunch instead of research, though. That might be a safer way to summer prune. You could reduce the trees vigor but not risk infection of large wood by repruning the stubs flush in the winter. But that would eliminate the advantage that might come from having wounds “healed” before spring FB season.

Good luck- no one really understands fire blight yet.


#52

Alan,
There are many years where Fireblight stays active here until cold weather arrives. During the 17 year cicada event we had the worse Fireblight infections I’ve seen up to freeze. Fireblight attacks growing tissue
http://extension.psu.edu/pests/plant-diseases/all-fact-sheets/fire-blight and the cicada unintentionally acted as a spreading agent. The cuts they made in the trees for reproduction and their feeding habits were the perfect Fireblight storm in spring , summer, fall. We are most likely to experience tree kills in summer months of June and July which are typically very dry. We see strikes in the spring caused by pollinating and feeding insects. Blossom tissue grows rapidly. Many diseases Fireblight included ooze a substance attractive to insects which they feed on at the same time they feed on blooms, leaves etc. .i won’t prune during the growing season if I can avoid it.


#53

I thought fireblight attacked the shoots inspired by cuts and not the cuts themselves. My guess is that the summer kills are probably the results of spring infections that moved into bigger wood from there. Big wood dies quite a while after young shoots have become infected.

I stick to my assertion that if wounds on big wood were a real problem in itself anywhere in the country, the suggestion of cutting out strikes in summer would have been thrown out decades ago. That is, I will believe it, but don’t expect you to.

Perhaps the danger of new shoots near pruning cuts could be eliminated by rubbing them off as soon as they appear.


#54

I summer pruned my asian pear in late July and the damn thing has grown about 5 feet straight up since then. I want to prune it again but I’m fearful of pruning this time of year.


#55

Alan,
Take a look at this post and the time of year Late season Fireblight . The problem is there are different strains of Fireblight as well. Some growers Fireblight is immune to copper and antibiotics but ours responds to both thankfully. Our growing conditions constantly puts my trees under stress which is likely a combination of many factors.


#56

But it entered through new growth, right?

If I prune pears in early Sept I doubt there would be new growth generated by cuts. And if I rubbed off any new growth, FB would not have time to enter bigger wood. Probably. Maybe you should experiment since you have the perfect lab.


#57

Alan,
It was new growth is my belief. The trees were trying to heal over. The interesting thing I found this year is that same cicada damage caused many of my trees to fruit for the first time. I tell people I got Fireblight strikes in October and most say glad we don’t live there. The south is hotter and more humid in places than we are. I tipped new growth this year on trees that would have broke off in storms. That growth had to be pruned and it killed a tree this summer. It was a resistant tree which was plumblee. If it’s a new tree or new graft I need to prune them sometimes so they don’t grow straight up in the beginning and get broke off but when I do I’m taking chances. I would never take that chance with an established tree there is to much to lose. Best to not prune unless there is a specific purpose is what I’m getting at. The purpose should be to remove Fireblight or prevent breakage etc. . I’ve experienced a year of the harrow sweet pears you endorse and they really are nice trees. Harrow delight and sweet are highly disease resistant and grow nicely. I will let you know how they do when they fruit. I see your point on growing them. Many people are getting locked in pruning battles with a pear they won’t win and by trying they make the problem worse much of the time. That’s not true with apples, peaches , plums, apricots because they grow into beautiful little trees with little effort. Pears are not that pretty little tree rather they send a long branch out on the right side and a short branch on the left and rather than be tempted to shorten the right I’m saying ignore it. When people shorten that one branch the tree responds with straight up growth on both branches. In my opinion trees are in two modes fruiting or vegetative growth. I have a neighbor who had an apple in fruiting mode 5 years ago and he severely pruned it and has not seen an apple since. He likely got 4-5 bushels of apples per year. People frequently over prune trees and the tree will respond with straight up growth.


#58

Speedster,
Like I said when you start pruning they will send up new growth. I would bend it or leave it unless you need to prune it off. You know what it did last time you cut a branch off and it will do the same thing next time.


#59

I stick to my assertion that if wounds on big wood were a real problem in itself anywhere in the country, the suggestion of cutting out strikes in summer would have been thrown out decades ago. That is, I will believe it, but don’t expect you to.

I have to agree with Alan on this observation. When I see FB, I cut it out,
no matter what time of year it is. If you don’t, it’s only going to spread.


#60

It occurred to me that a behavior patterns in pears growing in very hot climates should be pointed out. It probably says a lot about how a pear is likely to respond to summer pruning down hear. Early fall pruning might be more the way to go. Anyway let me explain:

Many if not most pear varieties harden off and don’t grow new growth when daytime temperatures are hanging out in the high 90s and hundreds. The fruit will grow and ripen of course, but the trees them selves are pretty inactivate, at least above ground. My guess is that the roots are actively growing in search of water.

In SE Georgia our pattern is as follows. Things warm up enough for European pears to start blooming in late February and really bloom out in early March. Conditions are usually pretty moist through April, and then dry off and heat up a lot with May and June usually being hot dry months. Typically the pears will go through a growth spurt right after they bloom then rest a bit when their growing tips turn black. I don’t know if its fire blight causing that, but it happens every year and no major harm seems to come of it. They will then do another growth spurt in April and early June. This is when the aphids attack in droves, and I’m constantly fighting them on my smaller trees. As we go into late June the young branches harden off until the August rains hit, which we did not get this year. This summer was hot as blue blazes and dry in SE Georgia. It was our hottest summer on record, and it got hot early so non of the pears grew for as long or as much as they usually do.

Ordinarily when the August rains hit and start holding daytime temps in the mid 90s range the super low chill pears will bloom just a little bit and most of the trees will start growing again. At this time the aphids are gone, and whatever turns the growing tips black is gone as well, so this is a time when the trees gain a lot of growing mass. This year our August was hot and dry and very little growing was done except by Golden Boy and Tennosui. In September everybody begins to harden off again and the leaves start looking tragedy and you can generally tell the trees are getting ready for dormancy which sets in towards the end of October / early November.

My guess is a June pruning might stimulate the tree to bush out more in August, but I don’t know that it would necessarily reduce vigor. That may be better accomplished in early September just after daily showers stop.

To add a wrinkle to the whole thing is that both my Ayers and Shinko basically went dormant in our extremely hot and dry August and have broken dormancy now along with a fig tree after two tropical storms passed through bringing badly needed moisture and cooler temperatures followed. Ayers bloomed out last week and Shinko is in full bloom even as I write. Both are putting on new growth as if it was March. Hopefully fall will be long enough for the new wood to harden before we get a hard freeze.

As for commercial pear orchards, South Georgia had orchards full of LeConte pears up until refrigeration was invented. Back in the late teens Georgia LeConte pears brought a high price in the NE because they came in earlier than the local pears there. With the advent of refrigeration, trucking, air freight and irrigation, the west coast fruit industry pretty much killed the Georgia fruit industry, except for peaches and melons. I don’t know that we have many well investigated best practices for growing pears commercially in my region since we don’t have a commercial pear industry at all. However, we and North Florida might come to have one should California early crop pear growing regions continue to dry up on account of climate change. God bless.

Marcus


#61

I have recently started taking this approach. Earlier fruiting should be a a result of the bending. My plans are to remove more wood from aggressive growing varieties as soon as I have a good fruit set. My theory is that more energy is needed for fruit and less will go toward large sprouts.