Planting and cultivation
Success with pears depends largely on your choosing the best possible varieties for your district. The world famous ‘Conference’ and ‘William’s Bon Chretien’ are the best choice for cold, higher altitude areas or exposed coastal districts. The soil should be improved by the addition of plenty of compost. Every early spring feed the soil around the spread of the branches with general fertilizer at the rate of 135 gm per sq m (4oz per sq yd). In mid-spring surround the trees with a thick moisture-retaining layer of compost or moist peat. Pears are less tolerant of dry soil conditions than apples, and if the soil in early summer is not sufficiently moist, the normal early summer drop of immature fruitlets can turn into a shedding of the entire crop.
Type of tree: Bush, standard, half-standard, cordon and espalier.
Pollination: At least two trees are required to produce fruit.
Climate preferred: Temperate.
Aspect: Sunny, or facing south or west, and sheltered from strong winds.
Soil: Well-drained deep soil which does not dry out excessively in summer.
Yield: 10 cordons will produce 20kg (441b) of fruit; a similar harvest can be obtained from one standard, or half-standard, four bush trees or four espaliers.
Pears should not be allowed to become completely , – – rj ripe on the tree if they are to be eaten at their best. Early varieties (late summer, early autumn) should be cut from the tree while the fruit is still hard; mid-season varieties (mid- and late autumn) should be picked as soon as the fruit can be cupped in the hand and twisted gently free from the tree; late varieties (early winter onwards) can be harvested at the same stage of ripeness as mid-season pears. To store, the crop should be laid out in single layers on slatted shelves or in boxes in a cool shed or garage. The pears should not touch, nor should they be wrapped. Final ripening can be achieved by taking the fruit into a warm room for three days. If properly stored, pears will keep for months.
Pears are pruned and trained in exactly the same way as apples. How ever, they can stand much more severe cutting back, and in summer the pruning of cordons and espaliers may have to begin several weeks earlier than the routine pruning of apples.
Pests and diseases
Aphids, birds and wasps (do not let the fruit remain too long on the trees), capsids and scab.
As with apples, it is best to have an annual spraying programme. Spray in winter with tar oil wash. Spray with insecticide at green bud stage , white bud stage and petal fall. Spray with systemic fungicide at leaf bud burst, as the lirst leaves unfold, at white bud, petal fell and fruitlet stages.
Soil and Situation. Pears require a warmer position and better drainage than apples, but in other respects are similar in their requirements. The preparation of the ground should be, within these limits, the same. If of a heavy nature, plenty of lightening material such as strawy manure, grit, or sand should be added, or it may be necessary to install land drains. Choice dessert varieties do best when planted against a south or south-west wall.
Planting. Times and methods are the same as for apples.
Forms of Training. The same as for apples, but standards and half-standards are not usually very satisfactory except for certain vigorous varieties, such as Beurre Clairgeau, Hessle, Chalk, and Jargonelle. Choice dessert varieties are excellent as horizontalttrained or single-cordon trees.
Pollination. As with apples, very few varieties of pear crop satisfactorily when planted alone, but require other pears to provide pollen.
Pruning. Young trees are formed in exactly the same way as apples of the same type,,. As the trees become older and start to bear, summer and winter pruning should be practised as for apples, except that treatment on the whole can be slightly more severe as most varieties form spurs readily. A few kinds, notably Jargonelle and Josephine de Malines, produce fruit buds at the tips of side growths.
Thinning. This is necessary, especially with the larger-fruited varieties and the best dessert pears. The details are the same as for apples. except that final distance apart for best dessert varieties should be 5 in.; large cooking varieties slightly more.
Picking. Early pears such as Doyenne d Ete, Jargonelle, and Williams’s Bon Chretien must be picked as soon as they are ripe and part from the tree readily. They will not keep. Later varieties can be left hanging until mid-October.
Storing. Pears require a drier and slightly warmer atmosphere than apples. They keep well in a spare room or airy, concrete-floored shed and are best laid in single layers on open-slat shelves, not placed in several layers in a box. They must be used as soon as ripe, which is indicated by softening of the flesh near the stem. Pears must be watched very closely, as some varieties go sleepy, i.e. rotten in the centre, within a few days of ripening.
Routine Feeding. The same as for apples, except that rather heavier dressings of well-rotted manure can be given in the spring, say I cwt. to 10-12 sq. yd., as pears require more nitrogen than apples.
Routine Pest Control. Spray at the end of December with tar-oil wash. In April spray with captan when the flower buds show colour, but before they start to open. Add derris or trichlorphon, if necessary, to kill caterpillars. Collect and burn all fruits attacked by pear midge in early June. Spray with malathion if aphid appears. Place grease bands round the trunks of the trees in September and keep them sticky until the following April.
Propagation. By grafting or budding at the same time and in the same manner as for apples. The stocks used are free stock or seedling pear and quince. The former is variable and comparable with crab apple. It should be used only for standards of hardy varieties. Quince is best for all trained trees and bushes. Selected forms of quince have been obtained and are known under letter. Quince A is fairly vigorous and suitable for large bushes, etc. Quince C is moderately dwarfing and encourages early bearing. It is good for cordons and other trained trees. These stocks can be raised vegetatively by layering.
Old pears can be re-worked by rind grafting, or stub grafting, as described for apples.
Varieties of Pear. Admiral Gervis (D), Dec.
Bellissime d’Hiver (C), Nov.—Mar.; Bergamotte Esperen
(D), Feb.—Apr.; Beurre d’Amanlis (D), Sept.; Beurre d’Anjou
(D), Nov.—Jan.; Beurre Bedford (D), Oct.; Beurre Bosc (D),
Sept.—Oct.; Beurre Clairgeau (C), Nov.—Dec.; Beurre Diel
(D), Oct.—Nov.; Beurre Easter (D), Jan.—Mar.; Beurre Giffard
(D), Aug.; Beurre Hardy (D), Oct.; Beurre Six (D), Dec.; Beurre Superfin (D), Oct.—Nov.; Buckling (D), Dec.—Jan.; Bristol Cross (D), Oct.
Catillac (C), Dec.—Apr.; Chalk (D), Aug.; Charles Ernest
(D), Oct.—Nov.; Clapp’s Favourite (D), Aug.; Colmar D’Eté
(D), Sept.; Comte de Lamy (D), Oct.; Conference (D) Oct.- Nov.
Directeur Hardy (D), Sept. ; Dr Jules Guyot (D), Sept.;
Doyenne Bussoch (D), Sept.; Doyenne d’Ete (D), July—Aug.;
Doyenne du Cornice (D), Nov.; Durondeau (D), Oct.—Nov. Easter Beurre (D), Feb.—Apr. ; Emile d’Heyst (D), Oct.— Nov.; Fertility (D), Oct.; Fondante d’Automme (D), Oct.; Forelle
(Trout Pear) (D), Nov.—Jan.
Glou Morceau (D), Dec.—Jan.; Gorham (D), Sept.
Hessle (D), Sept.
Jargonelle (D), Aug.; Jersey Gratioli (D), Oct.; Josephine de Malines (D), Dec.—Feb.
Knight’s Monarch (D), Dec.—Jan.
Le Lectier (D), Dec.—Jan.; Louise Bonne of Jersey (D), Oct.
Maréchal de la Cour (D), Oct.—Nov.; Marguerite Marrilat
(D), Sept. ; Marie Louise (D), Oct.—Nov.
Nouvelle Fulvie (D), Nov.—Feb.
Olivier de Serres (D), Feb.—Mar.
Packham’s ‘ Triumph (D), Oct.—Nov.; Pitmaston Duchess (CD), Nov.; Princess (D), Nov.—Dec.
Record (D), Oct.—Nov.; Roosevelt (D), Oct.
Santa Claus (D), Dec.; Satisfaction (D), Oct.; Seckle (D), Oct.; Souvenir de Congrés (D), Sept.
Thompson’s (D), Oct.—Nov.; Triomphe de Vienne (D), Sept. Uvedale’s St Germain (C), Jan.—Apr.
Verulam (C), Oct.; Vicar of Winkfield (C), Dec.; Victor (D), Nov.
William’s Bon Chrêtien (D), Sept.; Winter Nelis (D), Dec.—Mar.; Winter Orange (C), Feb.—Mar., Wonderful (D), Nov.