This topic is about the pear varieties that do well in the Southeastern United States and other hot and humid regions with lots of fire blight pressure and where chilling hours can be deficient. I will be describing varieties showing from my small home orchard. I invite you to do the same with yours. In addition, lets try and help each other with issues that arise from trying to grow pears in the deep South. In addition I want to take this opportunity to goin the "Southern Pear Interest Group" Facebook page.
However I do have some photos to share from my harvest.
I think it is fare to say that the star of my pear orchard in Statesboro (SE) Georgia this year was Golden Boy. Golden Boy is a European X Asian pear hybrid. It's parentage is unknown since the mother tree of this commercial variety was found growing at an old homestead in Wauchula Country Florida. This pear is sufficiently similar to my LeConte' pear tree that it would not surprise me at all if a genetic analysis demonstrates that LeConte' is a parent. But the pears from my Golden Boy were bigger and higher quality than those of LeConte' this year. Last year both three were only two years in the ground here, and both produced one pear which were about the same size.
My Golden Boy is a fast growing tree that seems to be very resistant to disease so far. The leaves stay very unblemished, but it does seem to attract aphids more than some of the other pear trees. Each year it does a big growth spirt in August when the worst of the aphid pressure is gone. I used weights to spread the limbs of my Golden Boy tree during the second and third growing season. With the use of weights it has become the prettiest specimen tree of my pears. I do think it's too vertically oriented to forgo spreading the limbs.
The pears are yellowish green when ready to pick and pretty yellow after they have ripened inside or in the frig. This pear is not at is best when ripened on the tree. The unblemished pears that were put right in the refrigerated lasted about a month in refrigeration before they began to get a bit over ripe. The flavor of pears ripened the refrigerator was slightly better than those ripened at room temperature. The texture of the skin was quite a bit better.
Golden Boy pears are actually pretty good when picked and eaten crunchy off the tree. But the skin is a bit too tough for them to be eaten with skin on at that state. My sister does not find the skin of a fully ripe Golden Boy Pear objectionable. I still find it a bit tough.
When crunchy tree ripe, the Golden Boy is sweet and fairly flavorful. At this stage its way more flavorful than Southern Bartlett but not as juicy and not as good of texture. When soft ripe, I actually like the slightly heavy but soft texture a lot. A soft ripe Golden Boy has a superb sweet flavor. It rivals about any pear bought in the store.
In my yard Golden Boy's bloom overlaps best with LeConte and Tennessee. Southern Bartlett blooms for such a long time, it also lots of flowers on it for the whole blooming period of Golden Boy, but don't count on Golden Boy blooming early enough to pollinate Southern Bartlett's early blooms. Based on some of my personal experience with Golden Boy, I'm fairly confident that it's self fertile, but this has not been proven scientific trials as far as I know. I can highly recommend this pear for SE Georgia.
Thanks I may have to pick me up a Golden Boy most of my pear trees look like they have blight and are not doing much. Do you spray your trees or grow organically?
Golden Boy appears to be pretty bullet proof with respect to fire blight so far. I can say the same for Tennessee. Southern Bartlett gets some FB damage on leaves and twigs, but solders through it every year and produces a big crop. I was going to write about Southern Bartlett next and show pictures because it's beginning to show up a lot at online nurseries. My nutshell impression of it is that it's bland unless you ripen it in the refrigerator. It is the juiciest pear I have ever eaten. When perfectly refrigerator ripe it is the perfect pear, but its perfect only for a day. From the day you pick it crunchy ripe and stick it to in the refrigerator until it turns to rancid mush is just a little over two weeks. It has a great crunchy juicy texture when picked and eaten off the tree, but at that stage the flavor is about as bland as a bland Asian pear. So far my Purdue, Scarlet, Baldwin, LeConte, and Southern King are looking very disease free. God bless.
A criticism I have about Southern Bartlett is that the leaves tend to look ratty from what appears to be fire blight. It nips the ends on the growing tips and seems to prevent a lot of vegetative growth after the third year. However, it does not seem to seriously injure the tree or hinder fruit production.
I think I let mine over produce for the size of the tree. I have yet to get very large fruit on Southern Bartlett, and it's supposed to produce large fruit. This is the juiciest of my pears so far. It has so much water in it, that it cooks up to nothing if you try to make pear preserves out of it. However, it makes great pear jam. I have found the flavor of the fruit to be pretty bland unless it's ripened in the refrigerator, then it's flavor puts store bought pears to shame. A refrigerator ripened Southern Bartlett pear is better than my Golden Boys. In fact it may be the best tasting pear I have ever had. When picked greenish, Southern Bartlett has about a two week shelf life in refrigeration, tops. Even in the refrigerator its pretty much ripe one day and mush one or two days later. The skin has big lenticels but is relatively thin and has the most palatable texture of all the pears that have produced for me so far.
I really like Southern Bartlett, but I rate it lower than Golden Boy mainly because while the fruit is better when ripened under refrigeration, it's really bland otherwise. Another criticism is that it's time of peak ripeness is so short, that most families will not be able to eat the pears from a mature tree fast enough without preserving them. Southern Bartlett pears are too watery in my opinion for a lot of canning uses. However it is the decent pear for picking off the tree while crunchy ripe and bighting into without pealing first. At that stage it's a lot like eating a very watery and somewhat bland Asian Pear. God bless.
The Southern Bartlett Pear above is how it looks when perfectly ripe. When it comes out of the refrigerator looking like this, it is melting, more juice than pear, and about the most flavorful pear you will ever eat. Don't let the name deceive you. I doubt very strongly that this pear is related to other Bartlett pears. For one thing, the skin is quite different and it has nowhere near the shelf life of a Bartlett pear. I think it tastes better though when ripened under refrigerated conditions.
Great looking pears!
The Tennessee or "Tenns" pear strikes me to be a very unique little pear. It supposedly came out of the same breeding program as the Ayers Pear. The family resemblance is clear. I can't decide if I like the flavor of this pear the best or the least of my pears. It's the sweetest pear that I have picked from my trees so far, and it has both the most complex and most intense flavor. However its astringent and has a distinct bitter aftertaste that it never quite shakes even when perfect ripe. I'm thinking this pear might make a nice cider if it ever becomes productive enough. Like Southern Bartlett its way better when ripened in the refrigerator than ripened any other way. The pear would be very good eaten while crunchy except for its thick bitter skin and heavy texture when not fully ripe. I suspect this pear would make a really good cooking pear except that it's small (a little bigger than a chicken egg) and would be a bit of a pain to work with in large numbers. My guess is that this pear would make an exceptional pickle if pealed and process whole.
The Tree Blooms and ripens with Southern Bartlett, meaning its an early season pear (late July) here in Statesboro. This year it was a bit earlier but overlapped with LeConte' and Golden Boy. Its shelf life is about the same as Southern Bartlett. That was disappointing because the write-ups I saw on it implied that it was a good storage pear. Not!
It appears that it takes about 6 or 7 years for Tennessee to really become productive. My tree just finished its third season, and I only got about 30 pears so far. It has this odd characteristic that when young it will overload about three branches with pears and not produce a single flower anywhere else on the tree. I know of at least two other growers that have had the same experience. I'm learning how to tell which pear buds are likely to bloom the next spring. Based on how the forming buds are looking I'm very optimistic that Tennessee is going to produce flowers all over the tree next spring. That will be its sixth season in my yard. We shall see. I hope so. God bless.
In the photo below, the bottom box is full of Tennessee Pearrs and the top box is full of Southern Bartlett pears for comparison.
I don't grow any of the pears that you grow, so I can't comment on them.
My best pears are Ayers, Maxine, and Pineapple, They're all three bullet
proof, FB free, good growers and abundant producers of high quality pears.
I also grow Plumblee, Magness and Moonglow. Moonglow is a complete
waste and I'm top grafting over to Harrow Sweet. Plumblee is a very good pear and Magness is also good, but a very shy producer.
I've never had any problem with aphids, and all of my pears bloom at the same time and cross pollinate each other. I also started my pears with weights, in order encourage horizontal growth as pears naturally want to grow straight up. I also prune all of my pears to an open vase system, and keep them that way. BTW I'm in SC.
I have a friend who has pineapple. The pears their two trees produce are good but quite hard until very ripe. I found that they made great pickles.
I've heard bad things about Moon Glow. Is it that it just does not taste good?
Have you tried growing the Warren pear of Mississippi? It is a Southern sibling of the Magness pear. Both are descended from Comice and Seckel.
I have not tried it, but I have heard wonderful things about it. Like Leona it has a reputation for taking a long time to start baring. I have one space left in my small home orchard, and "time before seeing fruit" is what has Acker's Home ahead of Leona and Warren in my wish list. I would love to graft both into one of my other young trees though. I think I have a resource for some Leona scion wood. I would appreciate being hooked up with some warren. I've also heard spectacular things about Olton Broussard, an Asian Pear for the deep south. I ordered and planted a bare root OB last year that never broke dormancy, and I got some scion wood that never took when I tried to graft it. I plan to try again this year.
My pear selection has been mostly concentrated around fireblight resistance and then taste. Golden Boy looks like it would fit in well at my place. Have you tried Korean Giant yet? I added several grafts of it this year with high hopes of it doing well.
Hi, I wanted to get a Korean Giant to be a pollinizer for my Shinko. I started looking too late in the season and ended up settling on a Twentieth Century. Yes, I know, Twentieth Century is not known to be super fire blight resistant, but so far so good. I really want to get an Olton Broussard going because its supposedly one of the very best and very, very, fire blight resistant. But they are hard to find. God bless.
At least you didn't do like me and plant shinseiki I really enjoy reading this thread. Seems like I'm not the only one looking for good tasting, productive, and FB resistant pears. Maxine, Golden Boy, Korean Giant, and Shinko are all on my list to add to the garden.
Moonglow is more suited to a northerly climate. It just can't take our Southern
heat. The fruit is so bad the birds won't even eat them.
Have you tried ripening Moon Glow the fruit in the refrigerator? I can't over emphasize how big a difference ripening Southern Bartlett in the refrigerator makes on the flavor. But based on your testimony, I'm glad that I did not add Moon Glow to my orchard, because I was tempted to about a year ago. God bless.
My Moonglow last year were not good. This year I let them stay on the tree longer and I let them stay in the frig longer. They were much better this time.
This is a list of recommended Texas pears http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/newsletters/hortupdate/2010/apr/pears.html. Seems like everything on the list would be good pears to grow elsewhere in the south.
Auburn, I don't know first hand if this applies to pears or not. I know it applies to figs and oranges big time and have heard on anecdotal account of it apply to pears. The fruit of some tree species and varieties improve a lot as the tree ages. The theory that makes most sense is that as the root system of a tree gets bigger it's able to gather all the micro nutrients needed to go into making the complex compounds that contribute to flavor complexity. For sure increased leaf to fruit ratio should improve sweetness. Anyway, my fig trees profoundly improved their flavor each year until they reached about five years old. I can tell you that even picked crunchy green without refrigeration, the pears on my Southern Bartlett pear tree tasted much better this year than they did two years ago when they were virtually tasteless. They are still bland strait off the tree but nowhere near as bland as they were.
Here is something you can try, and I plan to try. Some organic gardeners swear up and down that using volcanic rock dust as a fertilizer greatly improves fruit quality and flavor. It's hard to get, and the garden suppliers don't know what you are talking about when you try to get it. I've delayed getting it online because rock is heavy and expensive to ship. But I do plan to try and get some this year and spread it around a couple of pear trees to see if it makes any difference in the flavor of fruit or not. I especially want to see what impact it has on the flavor of Southern Bartlett. God bless.