Special Pear Concerns

Calling all pear knowledgeable people!

Sorry this is long. But I am super confused at this point. Would be grateful for your help on my issues:

  • I don’t know if certain things are even a problem
  • I have some (potential) problems with my pear trees and I don’t know what they are (pictures below)
  • I don’t know how to do certain things (thinning, spraying) when it comes to pear

Since pears seem to be pretty low maintenance (compared to stone fruit and apples) I seem to be able to find less info on how to take care of them. They also have less chemicals approved for them.

I also can’t tell the difference between nutrient deficiency, scab, rust, and spot - no matter how many pictures I look at - and I feel like many web pictures are conflicting.

I could buy something to treat these things, but I’m waiting until I know what I’m treating and if I really need to treat it. The pesticides I would buy would likely be specifically for the pears on top of what I’ve already got, since so few things are approved for pear. And I don’t want to apply some fertilizer at random in case I cause a different problem.

The pear trees have been sprayed with dormant oil/sulfur/copper, then mancozeb & toledo (tebuconizole) & avaunt & assail twice (petal fall and 14 days later). These pictures are 10 days after 2nd spray. If you’re wondering why they got sprayed so much it’s because there are 40+ standard sized grown up pear trees that were all neglected for many years. The first two years I had them 50%+ of the leaves on most of the trees were lost by June. I’ve been doing a lot of pruning for airflow and burning of fallen leaves and sticks and spraying. This is year 3 and so far, most of the leaves are staying on!

Would love help with any of this.

Problem 1: It is possible my trees have some nutrient deficiency. I have slightly high ph soil (7.5) and the soil test indicated sufficient amounts of micronutrients, but I know that the higher ph makes them less available. That could be causing a lot of the stuff below.
I know younger leaves are lighter in color in general but then one of the major signs of sulfur deficiency is lighter colored new growth. How light is too light? Pics of leaves below.

Problem 2: leaves of pear trees with spots. Picture below. I think all of these have the same problem (the reddish brown spots that might be the same as the blackish spots). I numbered the leaves just in case the problem is different on different leaves.

Is this spot? rust? scab? the fruits don’t seem to be affected (yet). There are cedar trees and other neglected fruit trees around.

Some fruits do have brownish spots/rings but they look like pictures I’ve seen of cold damage. They also look like pictures I’ve seen of scab. I guess it could be damage from whatever is causing the spots. So I included a pic as well. I cut it open and the fruit looks totally normal inside.

If it is one of those things, do I need to spray for it?

Problem 3: A few deformed pear fruitlets. This one has a brown spot near the stem but not all do and no other obvious damage. I have a picture of it cut open as well. There is maybe some blackish stuff near the skin on one side?

Questions similar to above. What is it? Is it a problem? Do I need to do something about it?

Problem 4: One tree has curling leaves and missing leaves. Missing leaves could be due to insect or deer? the insect that curled leaves ate them? something else?

Problem 5: Some of these trees set a lot of fruit. I figured some would drop and some did. It has been over 20 days since petal fall. More could still drop; when do pears finish dropping fruit? I feel like some of this should be thinned. Do people thin pears?

I tried pulling off some fruits. Unlike thinning peach, it’s really hard to pull the pear fruits off! I suppose I could clip them. How many fruits to leave? Also, pears like to grow tall - there is no way I could thin some of these super tall trees. Is it worth it to try?

Two more random problems. squiggly lines and odd spots. I cut open some squiggly line pears and found nothing interesting inside except brown damage where the squiggle was. The odd spots pear lost all of its fruitlets.

squiggly lines on pears:

odd spots:

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I’ve had some frost damage this year + severe wind storm when the leaves were tender, leaving some leaves (also on other species) curled and perforated and having spots (tissue damage, possible benign infection) and fruit deformed close to the flower end. Also, some fruit got discoloration and dropped. So the question is - is frost damage a possibility in your case? If so, there’s no point in spraying. Frost damage can open the damaged tissues to fungal infection, though.
The last two pics are insect damage.

I would strive to get the ph in range probably less than seven.

Whether that’s the source of your problems I don’t know. But get the obvious things right.

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That’s not really so obvious. The pear trees came with the house. Due to high alkalinity I cannot reasonably shift my pH. I know one can grow pears successfully in these conditions as the previous owner of my property did. Also, Clark the master of pears grows in high alkalinity soil (with high pH).

Yes frost damage is possible. However, none of this except maybe the russet spot or the curled leaf look like frost damage.

I still think there would be a point in spraying if the leaf spots were fungal or due to a nutrient problem.

Fabrea leaf spot, maybe? If the spots get larger and funky looking on the bottoms it’s probably Rust. I’d think the messed up fruit is from insect or mechanical damage?

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If you want to tag a member here, use this symbol @ followed by their handle name i.e. @clarkinks, @alan . Hope they can chime in to help.

Have you contacted your local extension service for help?

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Most of that looks like leaf roller damage, or green fruit worm. I get a moderate level of control by spraying dormant oil/lime sulphur in late winter. I also am constantly looking at the leaves/buds as they grow and removing any leaf rollers by hand when I find them.

The first pic looks like rust, or possibly pear blister mite. Both are difficult to control without spraying. Others here may be able to give you better advice. However blister mite generally doesn’t harm the tree.

As for thinning, yes I would generally thin pears to one/cluster once the fruit is more established. In my experience pears are pretty good at self-thinning, but some cultivars seem less able to do that than others. I thin over a period of time (remove the smaller, misshapen ones) as I like to have a few fallbacks in case of weather/pests/etc. The ones higher up are a problem yes, I use a step ladder but I can’t reach the tops of mine now either.

Interesting you note high pH where you are. In SW Virginia, I observe many Rhododendron, Sourwood and other acidic-preferring plants being native here.

Glad your prunning is helping the defoliation.

How do you spray your full sized trees? How tall are they?

Yes - this is very possible. I saw one on a apple tree nearby.

I don’t think it’s blister mite - but it could be. I’ve only seen blister mite when it was VERY BAD. So I’m not sure what a mild case would look like. I am not opposed to spraying more. They’ve already been sprayed. Wondering if I should hit them again with fungicide and which one.

Different fungicides seem good for different things (spot, scab, rust,…)

I will try thinning pears once I’m done with the peaches! It’s going to be an adventure!

I had dreams about blueberries and azaleas but alas, it was not to be. My exact soil type is “Chilhowie channery silty clay loam - between 0-25% slope”. It is a residual of weathered limestone and calcareous shale which makes it alkaline and thus resistant to pH changes. Even if I had a raised bed, I’d likely end up watering it with my calcareous water and be right back at pH 7.5.

(Just to the east of me, the soil is from acidic sandstone and shale. I pasted a soil map of VA in so you can look at yours.)

My soil has very good drainage despite being “clay” after 5"-10". It’s got a nice texture. So there are good things about it and I shouldn’t complain! But nearly everything fruit prefers a lower pH.

I’m not committed enough to have raised beds and acidify the water for blueberries and azaleas. I’m just going to grow peaches and pears and blackberries and hellebore which all don’t seem to care too much if my pH is a bit high. I’m also trying raspberries though I hear they might be more sensitive.

This has been a difficulty. The short trees are 15’, most are around 20’. There are five that are more like 30 or 35 feet.

I ended up with a felco “pro” sprayer 25 gallon that i stick in a garden cart and tow with my lawnmower. It is fine to about 20’. The tops of my giant pear trees don’t get sprayed. I also definitely don’t always get the coverage I should. However, I can’t afford a better sprayer at this time.

During fall/winter/early spring I could spray all my trees with about 35-40 gallons of water and 2 hours. Now they’re all healthy and bushy it took me 75 gal and 5 hours to get them done.


Thanks for sharing. I have a 2 gallon pump-wand sprayer and would never get to spray a 20ft trees. Glad you’re able to do it on yours.

Re:Soil map, there’s a website as well. It’s has rubbish UI but it can give you some detailed information.

Based on your user location you posted:

Augusta County, Virginia
21D3—Chilhowie channery silty clay loam, 15 to 25 percent slopes, severely eroded
Map Unit Setting

National map unit symbol: kckv
Elevation: 1,080 to 2,640 feet
Mean annual precipitation: 29 to 38 inches
Mean annual air temperature: 43 to 64 degrees F
Frost-free period: 138 to 192 days
Farmland classification: Not prime farmland

Map Unit Composition

Chilhowie and similar soils: 85 percent

Estimates are based on observations, descriptions, and transects of the mapunit.

Description of Chilhowie

Landform: Hills
Landform position (two-dimensional): Backslope
Landform position (three-dimensional): Side slope
Down-slope shape: Convex
Across-slope shape: Convex
Parent material: Residuum weathered from interbedded limestone and calcareous shale

Typical profile

H1 - 0 to 7 inches: channery silty clay loam
H2 - 7 to 17 inches: channery clay
H3 - 17 to 22 inches: very channery silty clay loam
H4 - 22 to 32 inches: bedrock

Properties and qualities

Slope: 15 to 25 percent
Depth to restrictive feature: 20 to 39 inches to lithic bedrock
Drainage class: Well drained
Runoff class: Very high
Capacity of the most limiting layer to transmit water (Ksat): Moderately low to moderately high (0.06 to 0.20 in/hr)
Depth to water table: More than 80 inches
Frequency of flooding: None
Frequency of ponding: None
Available water supply, 0 to 60 inches: Very low (about 1.7 inches)

Interpretive groups

Land capability classification (irrigated): None specified
Land capability classification (nonirrigated): 6e
Hydrologic Soil Group: D
Ecological site: F147XY003PA - Mixed Limestone Upland
Hydric soil rating: No
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