The Care Of Pear Trees

Pears blossom a little earlier than apples and therefore there is a slightly higher risk of damage by frost or inadequate pollination because the weather discourages the pollinating insects from flying. They often take somewhat longer than apples to settle down and start fruiting. Pears may be grown in any of the forms in which apples are grown.

Pruning Bush Trees

At first prune as for apples but more lightly, but when regular cropping starts, pruning needs to be harder than for apples, leaders being reduced by two-thirds to three-quarters, laterals to three buds and sub-Laterals to one. Pears form natural spurs more readily than do apples but a few varieties-notably largonelle’, ‘Josephine de Malines’ and Packham’s Triumph’ are tip-bearers and these must be pruned much more lightly with all short laterals left uncut to form a terminal fruit bud.

Pruning Cordons, Dwarf Pyramids, Espaliers and Fans Pear Trees

As for apples, except that the new shoots will mature earlier. Fruit Thinning Generally less thinning of pears is required than for apples. Size of fruit will be improved and regularity of cropping aided if glut crops are thinned to one or, occasionally, two fruitlets per spur.

Watering

In dry weather watering will be necessary, particularly when the trees are young. A spring mulch will help.

Picking

The test for readiness to pick is the same as for apples, but pears need to be handled with even more caution as they bruise remarkably easily and the spurs are very brittle. The earliest varieties will be ready in late July or early August and should be eaten at once. Do not wait for pears to become soft before picking. Williams’ Bon Chretien, for example, should be picked when still quite hard but will soon ripen.

Storing

Polythene bag storage is not so successful with pears but they will keep indoors in a slightly drier atmosphere and higher temperature than apples. Be careful not to pick the late-keeping varieties, too soon. They are better laid out separately on shelves rather than wrapped and stored in boxes. When almost ripe they should be brought into a living room to finish.

Feeding Pears often need more nitrogen than do apples and are less liable to suffer from potash shortage. Normally the ground around them should be clean cultivated and mulched in spring with rotted farmyard manure or garden compost. Where no natural manure or compost is available, mulch with peat after first dressing with t oz. of sulphate of ammonia, 2 oz. of superphosphate and 1 oz. of sulphate of potash per sq. yd.

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