My daughter LOVES juicy, ripe pears. As soon as we get some from the store she devours them. But when I tell her our pears in the orchard are loaded with fruit this year, she wants to go an d eat them right now, not waiting until fall when then ripen. I too have good memories of a juicy pear bitten into right off the tree. At my grandmother’s farm in Cloud County, there were 2 pear trees, a ‘Seckel’ and a ‘Kieffer’. We would make cider, eat them off the tree, and throw the rotten ones over the shed at the grain bins.
The property we bought 3 years ago has old pear trees in the northeast corner. They are loaded this year. I was told when we arrived that coyotes would come up and eat the pears off the trees in the fall. Now, the pears are fenced into my garden and pruned up to prevent unwanted pickers. I do not know the variety, they may be ‘Seckel’. Ideally, I would like to plant several groves of different pears all over the property, with different varieties like ‘Bartlett’, ‘D’Anjou’, and ‘Red D’Anjou’.
Pears like full sun but do well in groves where they shade each other nicely. They need yearly pruning to help control vertical watersprouts and shoots. They prefer well-drained soils but can grow in heavy clay soils and are adaptable to drier climates. Pears have fewer problems than other fruits, mainly Cedar-Quince Rust and pear psyllids. However, many pears are resistant to rust and bugs usually do not affect the fruit. Borers may attack trees if they are weakened or older. Mulching under the trees is important to reduce weed pressure and conserve moisture.
Pears should be picked before they ripen on the tree. If the fruit is allowed to ripen on the tree, it may rot from the inside out and develop the hard, gritty cells inside that can be hard to chew. Pears should be picked when they break off the stems as you twist them up. Most, except ‘Bartlett’, can be picked this way. Once picked, pears should be put into a cool spot to ripen. The sugars of the pears will develop better if it is colder, either in the refrigerator or a freezer set to 30 degrees. The pears are ripe when they give easily at the top near the stem with a push from your finger.
Here at the gardens we have 3 varieties of pears for sale, ‘D’Anjou’, ‘Bartlett’, and ‘Kieffer.’ Though most pears do not require a pollinator, pollination will be better if there are 2 or more varieties present.