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Growing Pears

Category Fruit Trees
A pear tree can can be a wonderful addition to your garden. Your family and friends will love to enjoy your harvest of the these sweet and delicious fruit. This is a guide about growing pears.
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By 0 found this helpful
March 21, 2006

Planning Tips:

Pear trees are hardy to zones 4-9 and one advantage to growing them is that they tend to suffer from fewer disease and pest problems than most other fruit trees. For the best results, choose disease resistant trees that are at least 4 to 5 feet tall and have a 5/8 to 7/8-inch trunk diameter. Ideally, the trees will have 1 to 3 branches 2 to 3 feet up their trunks.

You'll need at least two cultivars to get a crop of pears, but keep mind that different varieties will not always cross-pollinate with each other. Be sure to ask the nursery which selections make the best match. Expect your first significant crop of pears after the trees reach 8 to 10 years of age.

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Site Preparation:

Choose a planting site with full sun exposure and average to rich soil that has a pH of 6.0 of 6.5 (slightly acidic). Pears will tolerate poorly drained soil better than most other fruit trees.

Planting:

Pear trees should be planted in the spring or fall (avoid fall planting in zones 4-6). Space standard-size trees from 20 to 25 feet apart and dwarf varieties from 12 to 15 feet apart.

Care & Maintenance:

Young pear trees should be trained (pruned ) to develop a structure that will best be able to support the weight of their fruit. Pear trees should be trained to have a central leading trunk and a shape similar to an apple tree. If fire blight is a major problem in your area, train your pear trees to have multiple trunks. This way, if your tree becomes infected, you can remove the infected wood and the tree will survive and bear fruit on its other trunks.
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Pears are uniquely susceptible to an insect called psylla-a tiny red or green insect that sucks juice from fruit. As psyllas eat they secrete a honey-like substance that attracts a particular type of black, sooty mold. This mold looks similar to fire blight, but washes off.

Too much fertilizer and over pruning can encourage both problems. Branch spreaders increase air circulation and train branches while minimizing the need for pruning, and fertilizers should be applied only sparingly in the spring of each year.

Harvesting & Storage:

Pears should be harvested when they reach a mature size and still feel hard. They should be light green in color and separate easily from the fruit spur (point of attachment). Let them continue to ripen at room temperature for 5 to 7 days before eating them. Depending on the variety, pears will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks and even longer at slightly colder temperatures (31º to 32º F.
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August 12, 20040 found this helpful

Don't wait to harvest pears until they've ripened on the trees because they won't be as delicious, said a horticulturist at Kansas State University.

"Pears should not be allowed to ripen on the trees. They should be picked while still firm and allowed to ripen after harvest," said Ward Upham, horticulturist with K-State Research and Extension. "Tree-ripened fruit are of poor quality because of the development of grit cells and the browning and softening of the inner flesh."

Commercial growers determine the best time to harvest pears by measuring the decrease in the fruit's firmness as it matures, Upham said. This varies with growing conditions and variety.

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Upham provided tips for home gardeners to help determine pear maturity:

"Pears ripen in one to three weeks after harvest if held at 60 to 65 degrees (F). They can then be canned or preserved," Upham said. "If you wish to store some for ripening later, fresh-picked fruit should be placed in cold storage at 29 to 30 degrees (F) with 90 percent humidity."
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Ripen small amounts as needed by moving them to a warmer location and holding them at 60 to 65 degrees F, Upham said. Storing at too high a temperature (75 degrees or higher) will result in the fruit breaking down without ripening.

By Crystal Rahe
K-State Research& Extension News

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
March 16, 2010

I have a pear tree that by the time the pears start to ripen they fall off the tree. Why would this be?

Hardiness Zone: 5b

By Jim from Southern Ontario Canada

Answers

March 16, 20100 found this helpful

Pears are supposed to be picked green and ripened off the tree, unlike most other fruit. if you are waiting for them to ripen on the tree, you've waited too long to pick them. The tree may need fertilizer & water,contact your county's extension office to talk to a master gardener about any landscaping or home gardening questions. it's a free service. Good luck.

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March 19, 20100 found this helpful

Our pear tree was so abundant every year but then we would find a pear here and a pear there with one bite out of it. Then one day we found the entire tree bare. never saw the culprit (even thought it might be a neighbor - but they would have had to have a ladder to reach the top - which was also bare). Finally figured it must be the squirrels -- never did get any for us because of them. Advice was to spray with an anti-deer repellent.

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March 19, 20100 found this helpful

As soon as they are full-sized and taste sweet, pick them. You can ripen them in the house, or for canning use them while still firm. Pears just don't soften on the tree. Hope this helps.

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September 10, 20161 found this helpful

Oh my goodness the same thing happened to us. Our pear tree was loaded with pears and the next day I came out and they are gone. not a sign of any of them.

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August 18, 20140 found this helpful

I have a pear tree that came with the house. It looks like it's been through tough times, but it bears fruit every year. I get hundreds of pears each season. I feel terrible that the tree branches are all hanging down from the weight of the pears. Some of the branches actually snap.

I've pruned my tree in 12' and didn't get any fruit in 13'. Figured the tree was getting healthier but this year I have twice as many pears and my tree looks horrible again. I tell people I have an upside down tree. Is that normal?

By Elizabeth A.

Answers

August 25, 20140 found this helpful

It's a blessing! Free food! A lot of people swear by thinning the fruit when it's just starting to form. Just snip off the excess blossoms or fruit. More energy for the remaining fruit. That can mean bigger, sweeter fruit. Thin it out more at the ends of the branches than near the tree itself.

You can also trim off all but the main branches, but be sure you know what you're doing. You have to recognize which branches to trim, and how to take care of the wound where the branch is cut. You can also make supports for the tree. Google how to build supports for tree limbs. It's fairly easy, if you know how to do it.

If your fruit is good and tasty, you might want to consider preserving it. Pear jams and jellies and preserves (I make a vanilla pear jam that is soooo good!), pear butter, pear pies, pears in a light syrup. Dried pears. Or give them away to friends, family, neighbors. Check the area for food banks that want fresh fruit and spread the blessing.

Sell them - home canners would love a good price on fresh fruit!. Find out if there are any gleaners in the area who will come and take the fruit you don't want and give it to the needy.

What a blessing! Some people would just cut the tree down. I'm so glad you want to nurture it.

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April 25, 20140 found this helpful

My pears are about the size of a quarter. They are falling to the ground. What to do? Please help; the tree is loaded, but I'm afraid I won't get any fruit.

By Ben from Neely, MS

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