Russian pears for zone 2 - some info I found

Came across these 2 interesting articles.

  1. A facebook posting:
    Bernie Nikolai‎ to NAFEX

August 30 at 9:21pm ·

Its good to connect with my NAFEX friends again, after a few years of not getting the publication. I live in central Alberta, zone 3, and zone 2 in a test winter. My coldest at my hobby orchard a few years ago was -43C, or about -46F. Needless to say my 300 test fruit trees are among the hardiest on the planet, or they don’t survive.

Recently I have gotten into hardy pears big time. The normal hardy pears such as Luscious, Summercrisp, even Ure are simply not hardy enough for me, and die at my orchard. Some like Early Gold and Golden Spice are hardy enough, but lack size and quality. However most folks are not aware of the Russian pear breeding programs, that have been breeding hardy and tasty pears for over 60 years continually. These pears have only very recently made it to this side of the pond, and are being sold in a few artisan nurseries in Canada.

I thought I’d make a few comments of the fruit I’m just now starting to get on my trees, with some photos…

The first photo is Vekovaya Pear (means Century in Russian). This is very large, up to 400 grams, pear shaped, and good taste.

The second photo is Krazulya (means Beauty in Russian). This is a very good tasting pear, but small, only about 80 - 100 grams, and it does not keep past a week or two. But truly excellent taste when ripe in early to mid August. You can eat it off the tree, rare for pears, and no storage is needed.

Third photo is Bolshaya (means Large in Russian). This is round like an apple, and good tasting and crisp. It is large as the name suggests, well over 200 grams. First year fruiting for me, and when a friend tasted it last week, he said “wow, the Honeycrisp of pears!” referring to the texture…

Fourth photo is the best so far in my opinion, Krasnobokaya (means Red on the Sunny side in Russian). Full sized, and as good or better tasting than any supermarket pear from what I can see. It has survived -48.3C above the snowline in a test winter in Russian conditions.

None of these pears has even shown tip damage after a winter of -41.3C. To me they are far hardier and much tastier than any other hardy pears normally planted. They are also basically immune to fireblight due to the Ussurienses ancestry and I have never seen this disease on any of them, and I live in a bad fireblight area (the Canadian prairies). I have several other pear varieties I am testing, but they are a few years from fruiting yet. Also its experimentation to determine when to pick them, how to store them and for how long and at what temperature to maximize taste and storage. Its a fun hobby.

These are generally F4 crosses that have taken decades to produce. The Canadian hardy pears are all F1 crosses with Siberian pear, which generally only produces a very tart, almost inedible fruit. The Russians have found you need at least an F3 cross to get size, quality, and hardiness, but this takes decades of breeding, and nobody in North America had the time or interest to attempt this.

  1. A presentation this fellow gave to the Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association.
    Some more info can be found here on page 4:

In the Facebook post he said:
For US scionwood sources of these Russian pears you might want to contact the Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association in Anchorage. This is a group of very keen amateur growers in Alaska, and some have been growing these pears in Anchorage and Fairbanks for a few years. I’m not sure if they are fruiting yet, but they are surviving and growing up there.


Bernie Nikolai has been working on getting these Siberian pears for awhile so I was glad to read this post. This is a post from 2003 . Thank you for posting this information!

More info here:

Some more varities Bernie has been talking about:

"Kokinskaya - A new, very early (ripe mid August), large, beautiful and hardy and very tasty pear from Belarus. It takes -40C and slightly colder according to the reports in winter.

Kudesnitsa - Another large pear, ripe early Sept. and hardy to -40C and a bit colder. It is supposed to be very tasty and stores a month.

Marshal Zhukov - A very large pear that fruited heavily despite -42C for several days in mid winter. Very high quality according to reports. Named after the Russian general who was in charge of the army in WW2.

Chizhovsky - A heavy producer of very tasty yellow medium sized pears, ripe early September. Takes -40C and does well in cool summer areas.

Talitsa - Probably the hardiest pear on the planet. It took -60C and survived above the snowline (with lots of damage, but it lived). Only 78 days from full bloom to ripe fruit. Very good taste, but is smaller and apple crab shaped. Does not store but should grow and produce in the Yukon and NWT around Yellowknife based on the hardiness.

Favoritka - The best yet from the breeding station in Chelyabinsk, Russia. Large very tasty pears and the tree easily takes -40C according to reports in winter without damage."


These are supposed to be good pears, the last two may be hardy to zone 2, but I do not think that the first three varieties are hardy enough to zone 2, but they should be fine in zone 4. I grew Chizhovskaya many years back in Russia, my sister still has this tree. They are self-pollinating and very prolific. The taste is not very sweet, but that might be because we never thinned the fruits and it was overbearing.


Do you know where to get these varieties in Canada?

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Don’t want to speak for @hungryfrozencanuck4b though while we are waiting for advice you might check out this website that sells some of those mentioned
Pear tree.
Don’t know if they have the best prices or the best trees so it’s best to wait for the expert on that type of advice.

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Yep, hardyfruittrees has some.

You can also check out “Konrad…just outside of Edmonton Alberta(zone 3b)” posts over on the old gardenweb (Now Houzz) site as he frequently sells scion wood so you can topwork your own trees.

I’ve got several grafted in zone 4 but no fruit yet so can’t comment on actual taste. Konrad is not that impressed and says that a “Beedle” pear someone found locally is hardy in their climate and better tasting. I’ve got Beedle grafted as well but again no fruit yet. Crossing my fingers for 2018!

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Bernie’s new facebook post with some more pears. Take note though that some others I have spoken too have found the actual taste of some of these pears to not live up to their advertisements. While I am growing some, nothing has fruited for me yet. I’m going to wait for some Canadian taste tests before grafting more.:

A few folks have inquired about which varieties of brand new test pears will be available for purchase at the scionwood exchange. I just spent a few hours chip budding the below on Siberian Pear rootstock growing in the greenhouse this afternoon. Most should take and be budding out nicely by April 14. First come first serve.

The translation descriptions from Russian are below. The taste is rated out of “5” and anything 4.5 or better is considered very good tasting, commercial quality. Hardiness ratings are based on Russian tests, and all should survive and thrive in our very similar climate with similar winter lows.

“Winter Glazkov” . Taste - 4.6; frost resistance - 45 * C; weight - 160-200 g; storage - 5-6 months. There are small stony inclusions near the seminal chamber, when fully ripe, resembles the taste of the Duches pear.

“Memory of Zhegalov” taste - 4.6; frost resistance - 42 * C; weight 160 g; storage - 2 months. Without grain. Oily, sweet, excellent quality pear.

“Novella” taste - 4.7; very beautiful, this sort of pear has undergone strain testing in the Southern Urals and showed itself on the best side, winter, in all respects is competitive with southern varieties, oily; frost resistance - 41 * С; weight - 180g; storage - 4 months, the originator of the TsGL, Michurinsk.

"Sentyabrina " One of the best varieties of Sverdlovsk selection, originator Kotov LA Color - green, caramel taste - 4.7; frost resistance - 45 * C; weight 150g. Storage of 1 month

“Marshal Zhukov” A new very large pear, well over 200 grams, survives -42C with no tip damage and bears full crops after these temperatures. Very good taste, 4.6

“Talitsa” Perhaps the hardiest pear on earth, survived -60C above the snow in Siberian tests (with considerable damage, but it did survive). Ripe in only 78 days from full bloom. Smaller, does not store long, but very good taste 4.5. Should survive and fruit in Yellowknife and Whitehorse, Yukon.

“Chizhovsky” The standard that any new hardy pears others are compared against. Hardy to below -40C, 4.5 taste, stores one month, medium size, golden yellow pear

Example of pears below…First photo Marshal Zhukov, second photo Chizhovsky pears

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I’ve considered putting in some hardy pears in my zone 3b but was reluctant to invest time and money in z4 hardy as they would probably tip freeze in cold winters. anyone look to see if these Russian varieties are sold in the states yet?

@smsmith you get in touch with these folks yet in Alaska to get try to get some scion?

I got scions from AK last year, but didn’t have any luck with the grafts. I haven’t contacted him again this year

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I’ve yet to find any of the varieties Bernie N. talks about available in the lower 48. There are some growers in AK who have been able to get scionwood of some of the pears from somewhere (no idea where).

GRIN does have a few Russian pears that are supposed to have decent winter hardiness. There are also some pears from a few sources that are supposed to be able to take zone 3 winters.

At the very least, Ure, Golden Spice, and Early Gold should be hardy in 3b. In a few years, I’ll be able to report on around a dozen varieties grown here on the border of 4a/3b.


st. lawrence nurseries has some z3 pears. not russian but n. new england/ canadian cultivars. anyone have any of these? wonder if they’re comparable to the russian cultivars in size and quality of fruit?

I currently have the following in the ground:

Golden Spice
Early Gold
Walden Large (from Walden Heights Nursery)
Hill (from Walden Heights)

All of the above I grafted to OHxF97 except Ure, Early Gold, and Golden Spice. I purchased those trees locally and I am pretty sure they’re grafted to Ussurian pear rootstocks. The grower in AK (near Fairbanks) that I’ve communicated with re: the Russian pears states the only pear rootstock that he and others in his area can use is Ussurian pear (pyrus ussuriensis)

I am adding Beierschmitt and Tyson this spring.

This winter wasn’t a major “test winter”, but we certainly had plenty of -25 to -28 temps with a couple days around -30. We also didn’t have much snow on the ground for most of the year. If everything I have in the ground is alive come spring, I’ll feel pretty good.


Early Gold, and Golden Spice are hardy to zone 2. My son’s trees are at least 12 feet high and have yet to have significant winter dieback. Both fruited last summer and produced a respectable amount for their first time. Winter temps. went down to -37C. We do not usually experience much loss of blossoms or fruit due to temperature fluctuations. Weather that is warm enough to initiate early bud break is not the norm.


I lost all of my Ure and Early Gold fruit to a late May frost last year. Those were the only two pear trees I have that bloomed…so no pears for me. I added the Golden Spice tree last fall to help with pollinating the Ure and Early Gold. I’d sure like to get some pears this year


Anyway you can post some close up pictures of the dormant wood on those?

Of the Ure and Early Gold?

Early gold