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Pear Trees are by far the easiest tree fruit to grow successfully for the home fruit grower. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavors. The trees and fruit suffer from far less insect and disease pressure than any other tree fruits. If you are a low input gardener, Pears are the way to go.
The trees and the grower will benefit from training the trees when they are young. Most pears grow very upright which means by the time they begin to bear fruit it may be out of reach. Timely pruning and bending branches down below 45 degrees will aid in keeping the tree under control and fruit closer to the ground. I will try to do some videos on fruit tree training and pruning.
There are two kinds of Pears, European and Asian. European are the familiar grocery store Bartlett’s and Anjou’s. They have the familiar pear shape and soft texture. If European Pears are to be stored, they should be picked before they get soft. We pick them here when the fruit next to the stem will give slightly to thumb pressure. Picked at that stage and stored in a plastic bag in a refrigerator they will keep until Christmas or beyond. The fruit ripens from the inside out so a soft pear on the tree will be over ripe on the inside.
Asian Pears ripen on the tree. They have a firm crisp texture like an apple and can be used any way an apple can. Stored in the refrigerator, they can keep 6 months.
I know it is difficult to do but thinning the fruit will make the remaining fruit much larger. While not physically difficult it feels wasteful to pull off perfectly good little pears and throw them away but, the tree has only so much energy to size fruit. The less fruit the larger the size. In thinned Asian Pears might be the size of crabapples while well thinned fruit can be as big as a Grapefruit!
I hope I haven’t made growing pears sound difficult because its not. There are pear trees all over the US that produce pears every year with no care whatsoever. Pear trees can live to be hundreds of years old and will be productive their whole life.
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The Magness Pear is the king of European pears. Properly managed, it produces large pears with a smooth textured flesh which contains the purest essence of pear flavor. Magness must be grown with another pear variety since it produces no pollen of its own. Magness ripens here in Tennessee in late August.
It was bred at the USDA experiment station in Kearneysville West Virginia. It has good Fireblight resistance and is able to wall off any infections. The Magness Pear begins to bear in 4 to 5 years. The tree grows moderately upright and does benefit from limb spreading. This tree can set a very heavy crop so thinning the fruit may be necessary to get good size. Properly thinned, the fruit can be very large, as much as a pound each! The pears store well under refrigeration until Christmas.
Maxine and Potomac are good pollinators for Magness.
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Maxine is an easy to grow European pear. It bears at a young age and sets plenty of excellent quality grit free pears. The flavor is naturally sweet and spicy with hints of Cinnamon or Allspice. Maxine has an upright growth form. Maxine ripens around the first of September here in Tennessee.
A USDA release. Nice sized good flavored European Pear. A week or 2 later than Magness.
The Potomac Pear is a mid season pear that ripens in Mid-September here in Tennessee. The fruit is large and has a smooth buttery texture without any grittiness and is very sweet. Potomac Pears store relatively well keeping until Christmas with refrigeration.
The tree itself is moderately upright in growth pattern and benefits from training for home use. If you are growing them for wildlife, the upright habit gets the fruit up high away from the deer.
Fast growing and bears at a young age. Potomac has fireblight resistance and is able to wall off any infections that do occur.
Potomac Pears are self pollinating though, all fruit trees benefit from another variety as a pollinator.
Korean Giant is the first choice in Asian Pears. Large fruit size with a delightful, crisp, sweet flesh make this hard to beat. Growth of the tree is very upright and training will be necessary to keep fruit in reach. Korean Giant ripens in mid to late September and will keep in the crisper of the refrigerator until May or June if you don’t eat them first.
Chojuro is a medium sized Asian Pear that ripens in August here in Tennessee. The fruit is crisp and juicy with distinct butterscotch overtones. It is an incredibly unique flavor experience. If you can keep from eating them right away, they will keep with refrigeration for up to six months.