Storage time of new fireblight resistant pears

We know there are many newer fireblight resistant pears that are relatively new in terms of known pear data. ‘Bell’ Pear in: HortScience Volume 58 Issue 8 (2023)

Gem stores for up to five months.

"Gem grows on a tree that is productive and precocious. The variety has demonstrated fireblight resistance that is very improved over that of Bartlett, but it is moderately susceptible to powdery mildew, scab, and psylla. Thinning improves fruit size signficantly, and the fruit can be harvested over a long period. This pear is a recent product of breeding by Dr. Richard Bell, and while it has not yet been fully researched and evaluated, early trials have shown that it has promise for both commercial production and the home grower.

The fruit is mid-sized to large, slightly globular, and the skin is yellow with a red blush. It has a smooth, waxy surface and it does not develop superficial scald (a dark brown skin discoloration) in storage. This is great news because it turns out that Gem pears have a unusually long storage window. While the fruit is quite palatable when freshly harvested and still crisp, three to six weeks of storage are recommended for full ripeness and softening, and the pear actually appears to store well for up to five months. Additionally, the flesh of Gem does not yellow after slicing. The flavor is sweet and sub-acid, spicier than Bartlett but otherwise similar. Gem does eventually develop melting, dessert pear qualities."

Bell pear - 5 months storage

"Bell pear is a recent addition from the USDA research station in Kearneysville, WVA. It is a vigorous, productive tree with great fireblight resistance. Richard Bell, the developer of Bell pear makes the following statement regarding fireblight resistance in pear cultivars: "While it’s not easy to knock Bartlett out of its position, one thing is clear: Varieties from the USDA program all rate 7 or better on the fireblight resistance scale, where 10 is perfect and 3 is Bartlett. Fireblight can be devastating in some years,” Bell said. “With the USDA varieties, you may get a few strikes but not the large loss of bearing surface and tree death.”

Ripening about a week before Barlett, this pear is slightly smaller. It has a yellow skin that is splashed with a pretty, red blush. In taste trials it rates very highly for sweetness, juiciness, and flavor intensity. This pear is set to be a popular addition for home growers and commercial production. It will store well for up to five months.

Bell pear comes from the same program that produced Potomac, Blake’s Pride, Shenandoah, and Gem. "

Shenandoah pear - stores up to 4 months

This is a reliable, easily managed modern pear. The tree is vigorous, upright-spreading, and precocious (setting fruit at three years on seedling stock). Shenandoah has fireblight resistance that is significantly improved over that of Bartlett. Detailed fertility data is not yet available, but we recommend that all European pears be grown with pollenizers.

Shenandoah is a luscious new pear that will appeal to consumers who enjoy rich-tasting fruit. Its higher-than-average acidity gives it a snappy flavor that mellows nicely in storage. Sweet, aromatic, and juicy, Shenandoah is a large pear that boasts an appealing taste and texture, and it stores well, if properly chilled, for about four months. Shenandoah matures in September, about four weeks after Bartlett. This cultivar does not suffer from superficial scald or core breakdown in storage. The reliable cropping of the tree also makes it a great wildlife selection.

The third fireblight-resistant pear developed by Agricultural Research Service horticulturist, Richard Bell, Shenandoah was released in 2003. It was named after the river."

" Shenandoah, the third fire blight-resistant pear developed by Agricultural Research Service horticulturist Richard Bell, has recently been released. The luscious new pear will appeal to consumers who enjoy rich-tasting fruit, because its higher-than-average acidity gives it a snappy flavor. Shenandoah’s relatively high acidity is balanced with a high level of sugars that makes it sweet.

Fire blight is a devastating pear disease caused by a bacterium, Erwinia amylovora, native to North America. It greatly limits pear production in eastern and midwestern states, so growers in California, Oregon and Washington produce most of the pears harvested in the United States. Shenandoah can be grown in all production regions, but will be especially useful in areas where fire blight is prevalent.

In the Eastern United States, pears mature and are harvested from early August through early October. Shenandoah matures in September, about four weeks after the widely grown Bartlett variety. Commercial and backyard pear growers will find the new pear can be stored for up to four months in cold air storage.

Bell and colleagues at the ARS Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, W.Va., began developing the original seedling of Shenandoah more than two decades ago. Because pear trees have a long juvenile period, they don’t produce enough fruit for evaluation until they are five to eight years old. The researchers then spent an additional eight years studying how long the Shenandoah pear tree takes to bear a crop, the quality of the crop’s yield and its consistency from one year to the next.

Certified bud wood of Shenandoah is available to nurseries from Pullman-based Washington State University’s National Research Support Project No. 5, by contacting manager William Howell ( or by contacting Richard Bell.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief in-house scientific research agency."

Potomac stores up to 10 weeks

"Potomac is an excellent choice for both home orchards and commercial growers. This tree is suitable for organic production; it is vigorous and precocious, but most importantly, it is highly resistant to fireblight. Potomac is not self-fertile, and it will need a pollination partner. Seckel should be avoided, as Potomac is incompatable with this variety.

This pear is a cross of Moonglow and Anjou, and it is Anjou-like in form and flavor. Ripening about two weeks after Bartlett, the skin is glossy green and the flesh is fine, aromatic, and buttery. A subtle acid tang balances the sweetness. Potomac pears will store for up to ten weeks."

Blakes pride stores up to 4 months

" Blake’s Pride grows on an upright, spreading tree of moderate vigor. It takes four to six years to bear, but it is productive once established. The most notable horticultural feature of this tree is its excellent disease resistance; Blake’s Pride was developed by the USDA with a view to breeding a pear that resists fireblight, the scourge of many other Pyrus comminis varieties. It is also resistant to pear scab, but slightly susceptible to powdery mildew. Blake’s Pride is self-infertile and will require a pollenizer.

Blake’s is a golden-yellow pear with attractive russet speckling. The neck is shortish, and the juicy flesh has a smooth, buttery texture. In terms of flavor and aroma, Blake’s is an excellent, sweet eating pear, more comparable to Comice than Bartlett. This pear blooms one to four days before Bartlett and ripens after Bartlett, up to three weeks later in some regions, and it can be stored for up to four months. Blake’s is also a suitable pear for canning and baking.

Blake’s Pride was named in honor of Roland C. Blake, who worked at the USDA Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center."

Moonglow - must be stored 6-8 weeks to improve flavor

"Moonglow is a vigorous, very upright, and heavily spurred tree that is precocious and productive. It is fireblight resistant and makes a great pollinator. A trouble-free tree, this is a great choice for the small home orchard. Moonglow is not self-fertile, and it will need a pollenizer.

The pear is large and attractive. The green-yellow skin is blushed with a deep pink, and the white flesh is soft and juicy with a rich, aromatic flavor. Moonglow will need to be stored for six-eight weeks to reach full flavor, but the freshly-picked fruit has enough acidity to make it a great baking pear.

Moonglow is one of the first modern pears bred specifically for fireblight resistance. It was developed by the USDA and released in 1960."

Harrow crisp - 2 month storage

AC™ Harrow Crisp pear tree is developed by Harrow Research Station in Ontario, Canada. It was formerly know as HW 610 and is a cross between Bartlett x US56112-146. The fruit is very attractive with red blush on smooth yellow skin. The cream-white flesh is smooth, grit-free and firm even when fully ripe, with a mild sweet flavor. The tree has good resistance to fire blight similar to Harvest Queen. The fruit matures the same time as Bartlett at the beginning of September. According to Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, it can be picked over a 2-week period and early picked fruit can be stored for about 2 months. Storage life is reduced with later picking.


"AC™ Harrow Crisp is a midsized, conical, upright, annually productive, and hardy tree. More importantly, it is fireblight resistant, making it a great choice for home orchardists and organic growers. AC™ Harrow Crisp does not produce sufficient viable pollen to be used as a pollenizer for Barlett. However, it is self-fertile. AC™ Harrow Crisp will pollinate Bosc, Flemish Beauty, and Anjou.

The fruit is a very attractive pear, blushed red on smooth yellow skin, slightly larger than Bartlett, with fine and firm cream-white flesh. The flavor is mild and sweet, and it receives very high ratings in taste trials. AC™ Harrow Crisp matures at the end of August or early September, about the same time as Bartlett, and it can be picked over a two-week period. Early picked fruit can be stored for about two months, but storage life is reduced with later picking. If kept too long or picked too late, it will deteriorate internally without external signs. When processed as pear halves, it maintains its integrity.

This cultivar originated from a 1972 cross of Bartlett and US56112-146 made by H. A. Quamme at Harrow, Canada. The selection was made in 1979. The parentage of the breeding selection US56112-146 includes Barseck, which imparts disease resistance to many modern pear cultivars."

Sunrise pear - 3 months storage

"Juicy, aromatic and sweet. This hearty tree produces beautiful yellow pears with a slight blush. Fruit is good for eating fresh or making desserts. Also stores well, lasting 2-3 months in proper refrigeration. Disease-resistant to fireblight and pear scab. Introduced in 2006. Harvest in August. Best pollinators: Red Sensation, Bartlett or Beurre Bosc. See more recommended pollinators below.
Sunrise Pear Tree - Stark Bro’s.

It is farely obvious what my intentions are long term

Highly encourage people learning from other growers having experience with some of these varities

" Pear potential in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania growers take another look at pears.

November 2020 Issue

Kate Prengaman, Matt Milkovich // November 17, 2020

Bruce Hollabaugh stands near multileader pear trees at his Pennsylvania orchard in May 2018. Like some other Pennsylvania growers, the Hollabaughs have expanded their pear acreage in the last few years, planting higher-density trees that are more resistant to fire blight.(Kate Prengaman/Good Fruit Grower)

Pennsylvania growers looking to expand fresh-market fruit sales are taking another look at pears. Many of them have grown Bartletts, Anjous and Boscs for decades, but those varieties’ problems with fire blight and pear psylla have kept acreage low.

To manage the fire blight problem, and to keep up with growing demand for pears, some Pennsylvania growers are experimenting with newer, more resistant varieties on size-controlling rootstocks. The resistant varieties include Harrow Delight, Harrow Sweet, Gem, Blake’s Pride, Magness and Shenandoah, said Donald Seifrit, a Penn State Extension educator.

Seifrit organized orchard tours in Southeast Pennsylvania last year for growers curious about the ins and outs of growing modern, higher-density pear plantings. There’s been particular interest from Pennsylvania’s community of Plain growers (which includes Anabaptists and Quakers), who grow significant acreages of pears for canning — a category that’s not as profitable as it used to be, he said.

The modern pear trees are still relatively young, so it’s probably too soon to fully judge how they’ll perform in Pennsylvania. According to interviews with the Good Fruit Grower, grower experiences have been mixed.

What growers say

The old Bartlett block at Kauffman’s Fruit Farm in Bird-in-Hand looks like a lot of old Bartlett blocks: full of dead trees and fire blight damage. Orchard manager Clair Kauffman hopes to retire it soon.

“My father says he won’t plant another Bartlett tree in his life,” Kauffman said. “It’s a wonderful pear all around, but it’s had significant problems with fire blight over the last two decades.”

Harrow Crisp pears at Kauffman’s Fruit Farm in August. In the last few years, Clair and Ken Kauffman have planted Harrow Crisp and other new varieties on OHxF rootstocks at their Pennsylvania orchard. Thanks to their fire blight resistance, the new varieties work better for Pennsylvania growers than do traditional varieties such as Bartlett.(Courtesy Clair Kauffman)

Bartlett’s challenges made Kauffman and his father, Ken, consider giving up on pears entirely, as many Pennsylvania growers have done, but when they saw how the newer varieties performed in Penn State trials, they decided planting them might be worth the risk. A few years ago, they planted 2.5 acres of Harrow Crisp, Harrow Sweet, Harrow Delight, Potomac, Blake’s Pride, Seckel, Magness, Sunrise and Shenandoah on OHxF 87 and OHxF 97 rootstocks.

The trees are very vigorous, and controlling their height has been a challenge. They reached fourth leaf in 2019, the year they yielded their first significant crop — a nice crop, overall. Kauffman wasn’t expecting a big crop in 2020, due to spring frosts. But he’s seen enough to convince him that Pennsylvania growers can get high-yielding, high-quality pears from these new systems — and they won’t have to worry about fire blight nearly as much.

He said the biggest challenge will be reconnecting consumers with pears.

“Marketing pears has always been a challenge because of the way the pear ripens,” Kauffman said. “Just because you buy it today doesn’t mean it’s ready to eat today.”

With proper education, he thinks consumers will start eating pears again.

“I love them,” he said. “It’s a delicious fruit.”

A Shenandoah pear, one of the new varieties at Kauffman’s Fruit Farm. Clair Kauffman said the biggest challenge with pears will be connecting them with consumers.(Courtesy Clair Kauffman)

Bruce Hollabaugh, one of the owners of Hollabaugh Bros. in Biglerville, said consumer education is key to boosting pear consumption. The Hollabaughs teach their farm market employees how and when to eat different pear varieties, and they in turn teach their customers. They also offer pear samples at the market, which have generated more interest in the fruit.

The Hollabaughs have been growing pears for all 65 years of the farm’s existence and now grow between 20 and 25 acres, with the two best-selling varieties being Harrow Sweet and Bartlett. They’ve expanded their acreage in the past few years, planting higher-density trees that are more resistant to fire blight.

The main limitation, however, has always been pear psylla. The pest has multiple generations per year, is difficult to kill and can “explode in a hurry and turn a beautiful crop ugly in a short time,” Hollabaugh said. “Pear psylla is the most tenacious pest we have to deal with. Even if you don’t get a crop, you still have to control for psylla. A lot of growers don’t want to do that.”

The newer varieties and rootstocks weren’t bred for resistance to psylla shock, Seifrit said, but such resistance is a current breeding objective.

At Frecon Farms in Boyertown, general manager Steve Frecon planted about an acre of new, higher-density pear trees on seven-wire trellis in 2016. Sunrise, Harrow Sweet, Magness and the pollinator Seckel were planted on OHxF 87 and OHxF 97. He planted half an acre of Gem the same year.

But after years of growing the trees to the top wire and training the limbs down, Frecon is not getting the yields he expected. He hoped for his first good crop in 2019, but the trees shed all of their fruit that June. To avoid a repeat in 2020, he removed a nearby patch of woods to bring in more sunlight. He also brought in beehives and Bartlett and Bosc blooms to improve pollination. But the same thing happened. The Gem trees aren’t cropping like he’d hoped, either. Is it a pollination issue? Too many spring frosts? He doesn’t know.

“I’m really perplexed as to why 5-year-old trees are shedding fruit,” Frecon said. “We’ve invested a tremendous amount of time and money. We’ve meticulously managed these trees. To not have a crop yet is extraordinarily frustrating.”

Frecon will try spraying ReTain (amino­ethoxyvinylglycine) on the blossoms next spring. Until he starts seeing adequate yields out of the new blocks, he doesn’t plan to plant any more pears.

Young pear trees on OHxF rootstocks at Kauffman’s Fruit Farm. The trellis is a single-wire system with a conduit stake at each tree. They started with an additional wire for limb bending and tying, but removed it as the trees grew.(Courtesy Clair Kauffman)

In the early 2000s, Weaver’s Orchard in Morgantown had a bad five- or six-year run of fire blight. The damage was so significant that they ended up pushing out about three-quarters of their old Bartlett and Bosc trees. At the same time, they only had to push out about a tenth of their Harrow Sweet trees, said production manager Justin Weaver.

The farm’s U-pick and farm market customers were asking for more pears, so they decided to plant more Harrow Sweet and other resistant varieties, including Shenandoah, Sunrise, Blake’s Pride, Gem and, more recently, Cold Snap. They planted 2 acres between 2012 and 2015, mostly on OHxF 87. They planted the trees at 3.9 feet by 13 feet, attached to trellises, he said.

With the exception of Sunrise, the new trees have been fairly productive, so far, and are much more resistant to fire blight than are Bartlett and Bosc. Pear psylla hasn’t been much of a problem in the new trees. That’s probably due to a combination of young trees, using Surround early in the season and better spray coverage, thanks to the smaller canopies, Weaver said. •

by Matt Milkovich

November 17th, 2020|Diseases, Kate Prengaman, Matt Milkovich, November 2020 Issue, Pears, Pest Management"


Bartlett in my region, which is S. NY and W. CT mostly, has never once succumbed to serious FB in any of the orchards I’ve managed it. Just thought I should say this although I don’t doubt its difficulties in other locations. What makes Bartlett valuable here is its resistance to pear psyla, which is a huge problem with the majority of E pear varieties in my region, especially when it encourages fungal diseases that lead to early defoliation. Once it shows up in an orchard it is difficult to control and requires sprays at times when nothing else needs them. .I do have a few orchards where after over 20 years, psyla has never become a problem.

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I planted a bartlet here in southern middle TN… and just like 5 other varieties I tried years ago… when it started blooming good… yr 2 - 3… died of FB.

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Bartlett and Comice are the standards other pears are compared to and try to duplicate. No wonder you grow bartlett if you can. In my region i feel im doing something wrong when i slip a few comice or barlett grafts on something else. I do it for constant comparison of pear quality.


That is exactly what typically happens but once in awhile i get lucky and get to eat a few first. Grafting a branch here and there works better for me. Unfortunately harrow delight took heavy damage by fireblight this year and some were even killed to the ground. Since that was a pear i never had problems with it was devastating to my orchard. Had over 20 trees of harrow delight.

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We will be very happy with kieffer orient imp kieffer… and if we can get some bruce ayers harrow crisp from grafts… will be extremely happy.

I am transplanting a callery to my daughters place soon… for grafting improved kieffer to next spring. I will eventually add orient, ayers, bruce to it.


Kieffer gets fireblight but does not die from it. Ayers in my experience is very tolerant of fireblight. My small yellow pear is even more tolerant. In my area even ohxf rootstocks get fireblight worse than some grafts. Leona as an example takes a while to bear but is very fireblight tolerant. It is very delicious. Highly recommend adding it to your list to grow. I will do an update soon on actual fireblight resistance but it is not the trees people think in many cases like harrow delight.