We don't plant just the big 3 pears Bartlett , Bosc , and D'Anjou anymore. Marginal areas are now growing pears! We want to help you find replacements that work in your area!

Have said it many times before but again i’m saying pears are not fully valued. Every year i see interest in pears increase though there is a big need for people to grow good quality pears. The problem has always been washington and Oregon grow 2/3 of all the pears in the United States since the 3 main pears are difficult to grow. Speciality pears like the royal riviera aka comice grown and sold by Harry and Davids is also produced in Oregon. What about all the people in marginal areas where pears dont grow good? That very question is being asked in many places. The article discusses Pennsylvania and what small orchards there might grow. The article named a couple of @alan favorite pears which i grow a good number of as well in Kansas. Some of the harrow station pears are impressive. Have stuck with harrow delight and harrow sweet myself.

" 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"


I watched the other video you posted. Interesting stuff from orchard growers. I’ve wondered why, if labor is so high plus the cost of spraying, they would select disease-prone varieties. The only thing I can come up with is consumers know the name and select it for that reason. Otherwise, it doesn’t make much sense.

I’ve tried all three: Anjou, Bosc, and Barlett. Maybe my tasters aren’t as sensitive as others but the differences in taste aren’t that much to me. I’m still pre-fruit with a number of varieties I’m growing but the ones I have tested aren’t that much different either (other than Asian vs European). The main difference with a one or two of mine compared with the 3 I mentioned earlier are the skin. As you mention, by growing other, great tasting and disease resistant varieties, you reduce costs and losses.

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It is a shame. It would be nice if they bred more firm varieties. Bosc and Seckel are my favorite overall for eating, but the perfume in Comice earned it a place in our yard. I have always had a sensitive nose, and aromatics can greatly affect my opinion of a fruit.
The fumes from Dawn Powerwash Dish Spray were enough to give me a nose bleed. A friend bought the stuff, but I will never use it again. I can also detect bleach and ammonia at very low levels. Some shady seafood companies will treat their processed fish with bleach to kill bacterial contamination. I can taste it 100% of the time.

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Magness and Warren are children of comice. They are exceptional at times just like comice can be. The last 2 times i had comice i was dissapointed but we know as good as it can be it can never match what you can raise yourself. It is like comparing a home grown tomato to store bought. My small yellow pear wont ship. Lately i have had more bad crops than good but when it is at its best comice is nowhere near its quality. Hours can make a difference when picking it. In the article it says “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.” “they decided to plant more Harrow Sweet and other resistant varieties, including Shenandoah, Sunrise, Blake’s Pride, Gem and, more recently, Cold Snap” which i would imagine will bring back energy to the tired pear industry in Pennsylvania. Bosc, Bartlett, D’ Anjou, and comice occasionally wow me when grown right. That is 1 out of 25 times or more now. Maybe its the weather differences but quality is way down. Several years ago i had some grocery store bosc that came from Kroger that were amazing. The problem is those pears were the only good ones. Sometimes i buy bosc because we cannot raise those disease prone varities easily here.


Here are some suggestions as possible replacement pears for the rest of us who dont have a perfect climate. and soil conducive to growing the big 3 pears.

If you can’t grow Anjou - try Potomac
If you can’t grow Bosc- try Doctor Desportes
If you can’t grow Bartlett’ try Harrow sweet or Harrow Delight or Shenandoah

There are many others!

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