Pears, especially dwarf pears, are a fine choice for the home gardener. The trees are attractive even in winter; they require little pruning after they begin to bear; they begin to bear early; and the fruit stores fairly well without any special requirements. The plants take well to formal or informal training so space is not a problem.
Standard pears will spread 25 feet across and grow as tall or taller. A dwarf in natural shape needs a space about 15 feet square, but with the pruning and training methods described on pages 39-57 you can grow a pear flat against a fence or wall using very little space.
You don't need to thin the fruit, but if a very heavy crop sets, remove fruit that is damaged or very undersized. Thin a few weeks before harvest.
All pears need a pollinator. Use almost any other pear. 'Bartlett' is a poor pollinator for 'Seckel', however, and 'Magness' does not pollinate anything.
The one real drawback with pears is fireblight, but a home gardener can work around it by choosing varieties wisely and diligently pruning off diseased wood. Fireblight is at its worst in spring, when insects carry it from tree to tree. Resistant plants are the best answer. Cut off any infected tissue well below the infection and burn it. Other pests are codling moth, mites, pear psylla, and pear slug. See pages 29-37.
Most fruits are best when picked ripe or nearly so. Pears are the exception. A tree-ripened pear breaks down and turns soft and brown at the core. Always harvest pears when they have reached full size but are still green and firm. Hold them in a cool, dark place if you intend to eat them within a few weeks. For longer storage refrigerate the harvested fruit and remove it from cold storage about a week before you want to use it. Pears ripen faster if they are held with other pears in a poorly ventilated spot. For fast ripening place several in a plastic container.
- Clapp's Favorite' This large yellow fruit with red cheeks resembles 'Bartlett'. The flesh is soft, sweet, and good both for eating and canning. The tree is attractively shaped and very productive but highly susceptible to fireblight. Since it is hardy, this variety is best in cold, late-spring zones. Good for the North and West. Widely available. Origin: Massachusetts.
- Moonglow' This large attractive fruit is soft and juicy with a mild flavor. Use it for canning or eating fresh. The tree is upright, vigorous, and heavily spurred and begins bearing a good crop when quite young. It resists fireblight, so it is good wherever the disease is a severe problem. Good for all zones. Widely available. Origin: Maryland. 'Orient' This nearly round fruit has firm flesh that makes it a good canner; however, the flavor is too mild for a good fresh pear. The tree produces moderate crops and resists fireblight. Good for the South. Origin: California. 'Red Clapp' ('Starkrimson') An attractive red-skinned sport of 'Clapp's Favorite', it does well in the West or North but is susceptible to fireblight. It has good quality fruit. Good for the West and North. Origin: Michigan.
- Bartlett' This familiar commercial pear is yellow, medium to large, and thin skinned. The flesh is very sweet and tender, fine for eating, and good for canning as well. The tree does not have especially good form and is subject to fireblight. It takes summer heat, provided there is adequate cold in winter. In cool climates it needs a pollinator (any variety but 'Seckel' or 'Magness') to set fruit well. Good for all zones. Widely available. Origin: England. 'Lincoln' Called by some "the most dependable pear for the Midwest," this variety bears large fruit abundantly. The tree is extremely hardy and blight resistant. Good for the North and South. Origin: u nknown—Midwest, 'Magness' The medium-sized oval fruit has a slightly russet color. The flesh is highly perfumed. The tree is vigorous and spreads widely even for a pear. This variety produces small amounts of good quality fruit. It will not pollinate any other pear varieties. It is highly resistant to fireblight. Good for the South and West. Origin: Maryland. 'Maxine' ('Starking Delicious') This large and attractive fruit has firm, juicy, sweet white flesh. The tree is somewhat blight resistant. Good for the North and South. Origin: Ohio.
- Parker' This medium to large pear is yellow with a red blush. The flesh is white, juicy, and pleasantly sweet. The tree is upright, vigorous, and fairly hardy but susceptible to fireblight. Good for the North. Origin: Minnesota.
'Sensation Red Bartlett' ('Sensation') Juicy, white, 'Bartlett'-flavored flesh is covered by yellow skin heavily blushed red. The tree form resembles 'Bartlett' but is smaller; leaves and shoots have a reddish tinge. It is susceptible to blight, and in cool climates it needs a pollinator. Good for the West. Origin: Australia.
'Anjou' The fruit is large and green, with a stocky neck. The firm flesh has a mild flavor and is not especially juicy. It stores well and is good for eating fresh or for canning. The tree is upright and vigorous but susceptible to fire-blight. Originating in the mild area near the Loire, it is not recommended for hot-summer areas. Good for the North and West, Widely available. There are also red 'Anjou' selections available. Origin: France. 'Bosc' This long, narrow fruit has a heavy russet color. The flesh is firm, even crisp,
- Mericourt' This pear is green to yellow-green, sometimes blushed deep red and flecked with brown. The creamy white flesh is nearly grit free and is good fresh or for canning. A vigorous tree, it will withstand -23° F during full dormancy. It resists both fireblight and leaf spot. Good for the South. Origin: Tennessee.
- Patten' This large, juicy pear is particularly good fresh and fair for canning. Since the tree is especially hardy, it should be considered for the northern Mississippi valley where 'Bartlett' and 'Anjou' fail. Good for the North. Origin: Louisiana. 'Seeker This is a small, yellow-brown fruit that is not especially attractive but has the finest aroma and flavor of any home garden pear. Eat it fresh or use it whole for spiced preserves. The tree is highly productive and very fireblight resistant. It sets fruit best with a pollinator (any pear but 'Bartlett' or 'Magness'). Good for all zones. Widely available. Origin: New York.
with a heavy perfume that makes some people consider it among the very finest pears. It is good fresh or canned and is especially fine for cooking. The tree is large and susceptible to fireblight. Good for the North and West. Widely available. Origin: France. 'Cornice' The large, round fruit is green to yellow-green with a tough skin. This sweet, aromatic, and juicy pear is the finest for eating but is not recommended for canning. The large vigorous tree is slow to bear and moderately susceptible to fireblight. It sets fruit better with a pollinator and should be grown on dwarfiing quince rootstock. This is the specialty of the Medford region in Oregon, but it does well in home gardens along the California coast. Good for the West. Origin: France.
- Duchess' This pear is greenish yellow and very large. The flesh is fine textured and of good flavor. The tree is symmetrical and bears annually. Good for the North. Origin: France.
- Gorham' Of excellent quality, this fruit strongly resembles 'Bartlett' but ripens later and can be stored longer. The tree is dense, upright, vigorous, and productive. Good for the North and South. Origin: New York. 'Kieffer' This sand pear hybrid has large yellow fruit that is often gritty and therefore poor for fresh use, but it keeps well in storage and is excellent for cooking and canning. The tree is especially recommended because of a high resistance to fireblight amounting to near immunity. It needs little winter chill but stands both cold and heat well, so its range is wide. Good for the East, North, South, and Midwest, Widely available. Origin: Pennsylvania.
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