When do pears break dormancy?

I planted a bare root Harrow Sweet pear along with 7 more apple trees this spring. The apples have all begun to leaf out, but I see few signs of life from the pear. This is my first pear, so I’m not sure what to expect. Do pears break dormancy after apples? When should I be concerned?

1 Like

It may just take a while to recover from transplanting. But my pear here in zone fivish is in full bloom and leafing out well and my apple is leafing out. Apricots and Nanking cherry are done and prune plums are just starting to bloom.


Hi Ryan

I’m a bit south of you in CT. and all my pears have started blooming in around the past week. Apples are later for me here and is usually the case which many have still yet to open. As Mark has said it could be transplant shock but also could be if you bought them bare root then it also could have to do with how cold they were when they were in cold storage. The colder the storage, the longer it will take for them to wake up. If you want bloom dates I just logged many in recently over at Garden Register.
Garden Register


1 Like

Hey Ryan.

I’m right outside Philly and planted my bare root Harrow Sweet pear on March 28th. It has several leaves approximately 2 inches long and multiple leaves growing.

If your worried about it, try and do the scratch test and see if the cambium is green.

Good luck.


Hey Ryan,

I planted a couple bare root pear trees 2 years ago and they seem to take forever to leaf out. I also planted a bunch of apples that year and they did leaf out before the pears. Also, did your tree have good roots on it? Like the others have said you can give the bark a scratch test to see if it’s still green.

I planted a Harrow Sweet last year, and it leafed out in about a month. I imagine yours is probably okay so just have to be patient with it.


There were 2 or 3 very large diameter roots, maybe 10-12 inches long. but little to no smaller feathery roots attached.

I’ll take a picture tonight. Some of the branches and buds appeared dried out as well, but I don’t really know what a healthy pear looks like. I’ll scratch it tonight too, just to be sure there’s still life in it.

I appreciate the help and moral support. It’s good to know there are others who care as much or more about trees. :slight_smile:


I scratched a bit of the central leader at the top of the tree tonight and it looks good.

Here’s a picture of the tree. You can hopefully see how some of the branches are dried up. My first thought was actually fire blight, but that would be weird from the nursery, right? I cut most of the branches back to stubs or removed them entirely. The longer upper branch looks worse now than when I received it.

When I was out taking pictures I noticed two of the lowest and healthiest branches have buds starting to swell and push out new growth, but they’re horizontal and I have no idea if I could train one to be the new central leader. I see no swollen buds on the central leader. Anything resembling a bud looks dried up. Could I be dealing with fire blight?


I planted some ohxf 87 a few years ago and they took forever to wake up and grow.

Thanks for sharing your experience. Did you have any parts of the trees dry up before they finally started to grow? I’m most afraid of fire blight, so would love to rule that out or deal with it if needed, but I don’t have any experience with it at this point.

I’m glad I am not the only one worried about their newly planted pear trees. I planted three pear trees along with four apple trees this spring. The apple trees are all greening out and the pear trees look like sticks in the ground. It had me worried until I saw you were having the same issue. I thought I had killed all the pear trees I planted. I usually have a great green thumb. I thought my luck had turned it into a brown thumb.

Harrow Sweet has good resistance and fireblight strikes normally are after bloom, so it would not be my first guess. Can you upload a better picture of the blackish part in the middle of the top-most branch?

1 Like

No they did not dry up

Sure. I took the DSLR out this morning and took some portraits. :slight_smile:

The top of the central leader

The darker dried up branch

Buds have begun to push out on three of the lower branches

A picture for context, showing where the buds are with relation to the rest of the leader

I’m thinking I should at least remove the dried up branches further up the central leader. Is it safe to head back the central leader as well? Would that be helpful to the tree at this point? I could head it back to just above the branches with buds, but I was hoping to have some buds pushing on the central leader itself. This is probably the most branches I’ve ever had to deal with on a bare root tree, so maybe I just didn’t remove enough wood and the tree is experiencing transplant shock?

So as per the Cummin’s nursery web page, they recommend topping pear trees to 38" above the graft level and cutting branches to 3/4" nubs. That is what I did and all my pears seem to be responding well. Check out the “useful information tab on their website.”

1 Like

That dried up branch is worrisome- I suggest you send these photos to the nursery and let them know you are concerned.

But to your other questions, yes, you can head back the leader, and I’d likely do so below the dead branch. But no, I don’t think the tree needs more wood removed- those inactive branches aren’t making any demands on the tree.

I emailed Cummins last night and just heard back from Tino. They’ll refund the cost of the tree, and this was his assessment:

It is not fireblight, however.

It is sooty blotch which is brought on by pear psylla, which is an insect about which I know little, other than that it effects pear in a big way.

I’m hoping the tree will recover, as I’d hate to lose a year of growth and have to start a new tree next year. Unfortunately they just sold the last of their Harrow Sweet inventory yesterday during the 50% off “barn sale.” But I appreciate the service from Cummins. They’ve always been really quick to respond to questions and offer helpful advice, and every other tree in my order this year appears to be doing very well.

1 Like

How many trees did you put in this year Ryan?
Thanks for letting me try your Goldrush and Sundance. I bought a bunch of Goldrush (Schlabach’s)and bench grafted a bunch more on B118. (Thanks to Jolene for all the scions) Your tasting also got me to get a couple Sundance from Cummings since the Amish don’t carry that one.

7 more apple (SunCrisp, Newtown Pippin, Golden Russet, Ashmead’s Kernel, Crimson Topaz, Liberty, Crimson Crisp) and this pear.

It looks like our Goldrush is loaded with blossoms again this year, so we’re hoping for another great harvest. The Sundance looks to having gone biennial on me though. I see just a few blossoms. I’ll thin way more aggressively next year.

1 Like

I forgot to ask… How many trees is “a bunch?” :slight_smile:

Well maybe not quite a bunch. I bought 4 GR from the Amish. They are big, like 1" and 8’ tall with great branching. They’re bigger than some of my 2nd year trees. I bought a total of 34 trees this year and bench grafted 52 more. It’s my first year bench grafting and I hope most of them take. The trees that I have top worked in the past few years, I have had a percentage in the high 90’s that take.
I bench grafted 17 GR, 5 on EMLA111 and 12 on B118. Maybe I got a little carried away, but yours were so delicious and the thought that I could keep them until April or May got me a little too excited. lol

If you’re interested in a Mutsu or Honeycrisp next year, I hopefully will have a bunch of extras, enough that you can have one or two of each if you like. :slight_smile: My SO and I often go to see her sister out by you and I could make a delivery if either of those varieties interest you.

1 Like