Zone 2 pears

@Bernie @don1357 do you have anything to add to these? This is a great website i would recommend checking out if you are a pear orchardist in Alaska or Canada.

"Simon, Mathew, Andrew, Thomas etc. These are fast growing and also hardy to at least USDA Zone 2. Bernie Nikolai’s description of them seems pretty accurate –

“The “apostle” series, Peter, Andrew, Thomas, etc. are fully hardy in zone 3 and even zone 2, look great, produce heavily with large, good looking pears, but the only use for them is throwing at stray dogs (but not too hard, you’ll kill them :slight_smile: They taste like a cross between petrified wood and old, compacted sawdust.” That aside, they are reportedly OK canned or made into pear butter. They are faster growing than Krasnobokaya, and I also consider these to be pollinator varieties for Early Gold.

The Simon pears which have ripened for us seem to go quickly from hard and green to mushy, grainy and bland. Sarah thinks they are pretty good dried. Steve isn’t as enthusiastic. "

" There are a few pears that produce fruit in Fairbanks. Our pears are grafted onto Pyrus ussuriensis rootstock, which is hardy to USDA Zone 2. Pears typically fruit at age 4-7 years. Pear trees typically grow into hour-glass shaped trees, so require more training than apple trees to get any tree width. Pears are attractive trees and many grow them for their beautiful blossoms, shiny leaves and fall colors.

A note about harvesting pears: Most pears will not ripen well on the tree. If left on the tree, they will start to rot from the inside. Here is some advice from Prairie Hardy Nursery:

“While the pear still hard, take notice when the skin starts changing color. This is when you can harvest them. Once harvested, store them on the kitchen counter at room temperature for up to several days or longer. To assess that your pear is ripe, apply gentle pressure on the flesh just below the stem. If it is soft but not too much, it is ready. You can place your pears in the fridge to stop them from further ripening.”

Early Gold

Early Gold

A small, but good pear for eating directly off the tree. It is a prolific grower and fruiter when older. Early Gold is hardy to USDA Zone 2, and grows to about 20’ tall. Early Gold was selected from an open pollinated seed from Ure pear. Fruit is similar to Ure, but ripens 10 days earlier. Fruit is good for eating fresh and preserves.

This pear has ripened for some in Fairbanks, and it was edible, but not exciting.

Krasnobokaya photo courtesy of Bernie Nickolai, Edmonton.


It is hardy to at least USDA Zone 2, being fully hardy at our location. It grows slowly. Until proven otherwise, I consider this a pollinator for Early Gold. The following is a synopsis of a poor translation of information on the South-Ural Research Institute of Horticulture and Potato website:

From the South Ural region of Russia. A cross between ? and Zheltoplodnaya.

This variety shows strong upward growth at a young age. Branches rarely depart the trunk at right angle, but sweep to vertical quickly. Bark on the trunk and main branches of the scaly, brown. Spur fruiting variety. The leaves are large, broad, with helically twisted top, light green, wrinkled, dull. Leaf margins wavy. Petiole short, thick. The flowers are large, cup-shaped, pink, petals oval.

Fruits are medium weight (130 g), pear-shaped. The skin is soft, smooth and oily. Green at picking, when ripe greenish yellow with beautiful blurred crimson blush. The fruits are very attractive in appearance and highly-valued in Russia.

Larynskaya photo courtesy of Hardy Fruit Trees website


Originated in South-Ural Research Institute of Fruit & Vegetable Growing and Potato Growing form a cross between selected seedling of Ussuriysk pear 41-15-9 and Clapp’s Favorite. Ripen by early September. Medium sized, mass -110g (up to 140g), uniform, shortly-pyriform, uneven surface. Short, thick, aslant set stalk. Flesh is creamy, solid, juicy.

From the Hardy Fruit Trees website:

Larinskaya, Russian for ‘‘belonging to Larin’’ is not too sweet, not too tart; excellent for those who are not fans of extremely sweet pears. In flavour tests this variety received a score of 4.5 out of 5, which is very good for a hardy pear. It’s a small to medium sized fruit with a more rounded shape than the quintessential pear. In appearance it is light green with darker green spots and turns to a pale yellow as it ripens. The skin possesses a bumpy texture and is quite thick and resilient. The flesh is white, fine grained and juicy with a crisp texture. Good for fresh consumption and canning. Stores relatively well; lasting up to 8 weeks under ideal conditions.

The tree is fully hardy to Edmonton in zone 3a and worth trying up to zone 2b. A highly productive tree; yield high up to 46 kg per tree. There are no known issues with disease to this date.

This variety is the result of up to sixty years of hybridization and careful selection. It originated in Russia at the the South-Ural research institute of Fruit & Vegetable Growing and Potato Growing from a cross between selected seedlings of Ussuriysk pear 41-15-9 and Clapp’s Favorite. The authors of this cross are E.A. Falkenberg, M.A. Mazunin, and V.I. Putyatin.


Russian pear From the Bryansk region, R.S.S.R., the northern limit of pear cultivation in the U.S.S.R. Scions presented to USDA Plant Industry Station by the Moscow Experimental Station of Fruit Culture, 1963

Golden Spice

Golden Spice is a very hardy pear with 1.75" fruit that are medium yellow with a dull-red blush and white flesh in Late August to mid September. Fruit have a sweet taste, and crisp texture and are used for fresh eating, cooking, baking and canning. These are slow growing, but have shown to be very hardy (so far). We grafted up 5 and all are still alive after 4 winters. I have heard they ripen late in Alaska, so may not have time to ripen every year.

Failures & Tests

We have tried Summercrisp, Hudar , Patten, Nova & Ure - all perished, despite being “zone 2 or 3” hardy. Golden Spice seems to be made of tougher stuff. 5 trees made it through 4 winters so far. I have hope it will make it to fruit, it does in Alberta, but that ain’t Fairbanks.

Simon - The first pear to ripen in our orchard


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Prairie pears, varieties to count on

Most of the pears hardy on the prairies are hybrids of the Manchurian pear (Pyrus ussuriensis) and the European pear (P. communis). Breeders have sought to combine the hardiness of the former with the fruit size and quality of the later.

Sara WilliamsJun 4, 2018 9:27 AM

Early Gold is among the hardiest pears for prairie gardens. Photo courtesy Bylands Nurseries

Most of the pears hardy on the prairies are hybrids of the Manchurian pear (Pyrus ussuriensis) and the European pear (P. communis). Breeders have sought to combine the hardiness of the former with the fruit size and quality of the later.

Some of the earliest breeding carried out on the prairies was by Dr. Cecil Patterson, the first head of the Department of Horticulture at the University of Saskatchewan. The Apostle series of eight pears was released in 1960 just prior to his retirement. While many of these have been superseded by more recent introductions, John and Thomas remain readily available.

John has a strongly upright and pyramidal form and is ornamental. Its fruit (three by 2.5 inches) are the largest of the Apostle series, of good quality flesh and ripen in late September.

Thomas has a more spreading form and produces more fruit than John that is within easier picking range. The round fruit is 2.25 inches in diameter, of fair quality and ripen in late September or early October. The firm flesh keeps well and is good for canning.

Golden Spice from the University of Minnesota was introduced in 1949. It is productive of good tasting, small, spicy fruit but only dependably hardy to zone 4. It has shown regular winter die back in Saskatoon.

Ure, released from the Morden Research Station in 1978, has round fruit two inches in diameter that is good fresh or for processing, ripening in mid-September. It has a tendency to ripen unevenly over a few weeks while still on the tree. Hardy to zones 3 and 4, the trees experience regular dieback problems in zone 2.

Early Gold, a Ure seedling selected by Wilbert Ronald of Jeffries Nursery in 1994, is probably the best choice for zone 2. The tree is smaller than most pears, at only 30 feet. The round fruit is similar to Ure, matures earlier, is two inches in diameter and can be used fresh or for jam.

Plant pears in early spring in well-drained soil in full sun. Mulch after planting to conserve moisture and control weeds. They are usually grafted onto Manchurian pear rootstock and suckers emerging from the base should be removed. They mature to large trees, up to 40 feet in height with a 20-foot spread and should be spaced accordingly. Water regularly during their first few years. Once established, they are drought-tolerant. Apply fertilizer sparingly. Too much nitrogen makes them more vulnerable to fireblight.

Pears bloom early with beautiful white flowers with contrasting black stamens. The flowers are complete but self-incompatible. This means two trees, the Manchurian pear or another variety that blooms at the same time, are required for fruit set.

Pears are ripe when they change colour from green to yellow. Often, within a week after changing colour, they begin to rot internally. If left to ripen on the tree, they may develop stone cells that give them a texture similar to sand. It’s best to pick the fruit when it’s fully grown, but green and hard and allow them to mature off the tree. Once fully ripe, they have a very short shelf life before becoming mushy. (Ralph Waldo Emerson was only slightly exaggerating when he wrote, “There are only 10 minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat.”) Most are good for canning and pear sauce.

Fireblight is the only serious disease problem. Prune off diseased portions as soon as they are noticed, disinfecting your tools between each cut.

Sara Williams is the author and coauthor of many books including Gardening Naturally with Hugh Skinner, the revised and expanded Creating the Prairie Xeriscape and recently, with Bob Bors, Growing Fruit in Northern Gardens. She gives workshops on a wide range of gardening topics throughout the prairies.


" Only a few commercial pear selections that produce quality fruit are hardy in the prairies. Most hardy pears are the result of interspecific crosses between Manchurian pear (Pyrus ussuriensis) and European pear (Pyrus communis). Manchurian pears are extremely cold hardy but the fruit is inedible, while European pears such as ‘Bartlett’ are much less hardy with superior fruit quality. At the U of S we have also been adding Asian pear (Pyrus pyrifolia) genetics to the mix in an attempt to further improve fruit quality as well as storability.

Pear breeding has been going on at the U of S for the last 80 years starting with the Apostle series bred by Dr. Patterson and Art Coutts prior to the Second World War. Rick Sawatzky then started doing pear crosses again in the mid 1980s and believes that we are getting very close to coming up with some hardy, good quality pears.

Of the commercially available cultivars, ‘Ure’ pear is perhaps the tastiest but also slightly less hardy (zone 3). It produces an abundance of small pears that are sweet, juicy, and excellent both fresh and for cooking. Other hardier cultivars worth mentioning are ‘Thomas’, ‘David’ and ‘John’ which are part of the U of S Apostle series.

It is recommended to have at least 2 pear cultivars for cross pollination as this results in larger fruit, however, many pears will set fruit on their own."

For a good description and photos of new good quality and zone 3 hardy pears check this website Pear Trees – Prairie Hardy Nursery



Thanks this will help lots of people living in colder areas.

It wont be long until zone 2 & 3 are grafting. Zone 4 & 5 are likely coming along good. There is some overlap. Recommendations for Cold Hardy Pears, Zone 4 - #46 by clarkinks

I started top working yesterday. Old zone 3b, currently labeled (incorrectly) as 4a.

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Let us know how its coming. We had very few good grafting days but i kept grafting anyway. Wishing good weather for you.

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The “apostle” series, Peter, Andrew, Thomas, etc. are fully hardy in zone 3 and even zone 2, look great, produce heavily with large, good looking pears, but the only use for them is throwing at stray dogs (but not too hard, you’ll kill them :slight_smile: They taste like a cross between petrified wood and old, compacted sawdust.”

I’ve read this comment quoted in I don’t know how many places and as someone that is actually growing them (John & Thomas), I think the Apostle series deserves much better than this. Pick them a bit green and let them ripen off the tree and they are very tasty, juicy, and not hard at all. The problem with them though is that they are very poor keepers, so you suddenly have a lot of ripe pears all at the same time with not much time to use them.

To help solve that problem, I’ve ordered a Beedle pear. Zone 2 hardy, tasty, and a good keeper.

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Thanks for the good weather wishes. It’s been a little warm for this time of the year here for my tastes. Right around 70-72 the last few days. Warmer weather next week they say. I have no idea if that’s “good grafting weather” or not.

I finished up with apple and pear grafting today. I’ve got a few mulberries to graft yet, but the trees they’re going on haven’t even woke up yet.

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