Pruning bearing age pear trees

For both apples and pears, any one-size-fits-all instruction can be perilous, but this method can be applied to the varieties of pears I grow and is similar to how I manage many varieties of apple trees, where after the third year moderately vigorous wood is removed, having served its purpose. The problem is that trees don’t always produce the kind of productive wood you want throughout, depending on variety age and conditions. However, it is always useful to know that spurwood, the smaller growth that bears fruit, can build up in trees and reduce vigor, so even if you don’t have the bearing wood on a three year cycle it is important to remove enough bearing wood in older trees to sustain adequate vigor. Given that the rule of thumb is that it takes about 30 leaves to produce a high quality fruit you can understand the importance of sustaining the perfect balance that is “moderate vigor”.

Before I start pruning I always assess the previous seasons growth and try to balance the amount of spur wood I leave in ratio to the relative vigor of the tree. If a tree is stunted with too much I remove a lot of it and leave as much annual growth as useful to generate new growth, often cutting back to upward new growth. .


Great article. Thanks. Fruiting wood is starting to built up on my goldrush tree. I’ve made a couple of bigger cuts but left the fruiting wood alone until I could decide what to do with it. I need to take another look at my tree with this article in mind and thin out some of it. That tree sure does put out a lot of flowers. Its almost like a peach with flowers all along one year old laterals. But those flowers come on late which is BAD for fireblight.

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Goldrush is a spurry variety and very precocious. The nice thing about such varieties is that they make pruning and training relatively quick and easy once you get the hang of it, but when they come into bearing one generally has to prune them for vigor.

The younger spurs produce the best fruit, as a general rule. But they need to be in the open light.

Once trees have reached reasonable size one can wait until flower buds declare themselves, even if it takes until early growth in spring. This is very helpful when you are learning because you can see where and how much the tree is flowering and favor the ones on wood most capable of nourishing its fruit. That is, thicker, better light exposed spur wood, especially buds on the second year of shoot growth for many varieties.

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