Pears

Excellent to eat and beautiful to behold!

Pears are an excellent choice for the Central Texas home gardener, but be aware that they require annual maintenance and grow best where there is deep soil.  They will not thrive where the native soil is shallow.  A mature pear can grow to be 20’ tall and 15’ wide, and provides beautiful spring blooms, excellent fall color, and delicious (and prolific!) fruit.  Certain varieties are semi-self fertile, and can produce a reliable crop as an individual tree.  Others will do best with a second tree as a pollinator.

Note: The familiar European varieties of pear such as Bosc, D’Anjou, and Bartlett are not grown here because of their extreme susceptibility to fire blight.  Chilling hours are shown in parentheses.

Ayers (450)

A medium sized fruit with juicy, sweet flesh, ripening in August.  Yellow skin with brown russet and red blush.  Good for fresh eating and canning.  Highly resistant to fire blight.  Developed in Tennessee in 1954.  Pollinate with Kieffer.

Chojuro (500)

Asian pear with medium-sized fruit and mildly sweet, crisp white flesh.  Ripens early to mid-August.  Greenish-brown to russet brown skin.  Highly productive.  Pick when first yellow-brown to avoid bruising.  Good fall color.  Pollinator is Shinko.

Kieffer (400)

Large fruit that is crisp and juicy.  Flesh is white, with a gritty texture and greenish-yellow skin.  Fruit stores well and are good for cooking and canning.  Some like the texture of fresh fruit, however, to reduce grit for fresh eating, store fruit in a paper bag 2-4 weeks at room temperature.  A consistent heavy bearer, ripening late September to October.  Highly resistant to fire blight.  From Roxborough, Pennsylvania 1873.  Semi-self fertile.

Leconte (200)

Medium-sized, attractive, juicy, aromatic, bell-shaped fruit that ripens from August through early September.  Bright yellow skin with red blush.  Good fresh eating.  Fair fire blight resistance.  Pollinate with any non-Asian pear.

Moonglow (500)

Large fruit with soft, moderately juicy, gritless flesh.  Brownish green skin with mild, slightly acidity flavor.  Fruit is good fresh and processed.  Good fire blight resistance.  Excellent pollinator that bears early.  Pollinate with any non-Asian pear.

Orient (400)

Medium to large fruit with slightly sweet, firm, juicy, white flesh and yellow, russet skin.  Heavy producer from August to September.  Fair for fresh eating, good for canning & baking.  Highly resistant to fire blight.  Semi-self fertile.

Shinko (450)

Asian pear with medium to large with fine-textured flesh and excellent, rich, sweet flavor. Ripens August to September.  Brownish-green russet skin.  Very good fire blight resistance.  Pollinate with Chojuro.

 Shinseiki (350-450)

(Unpredictable availability) Asian pear with medium fruit with excellent flavor which ripens early to mid July.  Yellow skin with brown freckling.  Good fresh eating.  Moderate fire blight resistance.  Semi-self fertile.

 Southern Bartlett (450) 

(Unpredictable availability) Large fruit with excellent quality and, juicy, fine-textured flesh which ripens in August.  A chance sport of the Bartlett pear found on an old Louisiana homestead.  Heavy producer, good fire-blight resistance.  Semi-self fertile, best pollination with Orient.

Warren (600-800)

Small to medium fruit with red blushed skin and excellent, smooth, buttery textured flesh which ripens in August.  Slow to bear fruit.  Resistant to fire blight.  Discovered in Hattisburg, Mississippi in 1976.  Best pollination with Orient or Kieffer

Pear trees are tolerant of both heat and drought, and can thrive in less-than-ideal conditions, but will require at least 3′ of native soil depth.  However, better soil preparation and tree care equals better production!  Consult our page on Fruit Trees, Pecans, & Berries for complete instructions.  Minimize the use of compost and fertilizer on pears because high fertility leads to rapid, succulent growth, which promotes fire blight.  Young pears will especially need annual pruning to ensure they develop into a shapely and productive specimen.

Pears should have their fruit removed through the first three full growing seasons.  This allows the tree to form a proper structure to accommodate future crops. 

Once production begins, for better fruit and overall health of the tree, the fruit must be thinned when pears are about the size of marbles.  Leave one pear per cluster, and space the clusters approximately every six inches.  Be careful not to damage the spurs (the short branches) that produce the flower buds and fruit.

Pears (except Asian) do not ripen well on the tree. Harvest maturity is indicated with a slight change from green to yellow. While some enjoy crisp fruit directly off the tree, they will further ripen in 2 – 3 weeks at room temperature in a ventilated area.

Pears can be pruned according to the central leader method.  The following should be removed:

  1. Suckers
  2. Stubs or broken branches
  3. Downward growing branches
  4. Rubbing or criss-crossing branches
  5. Shaded interior branches
  6. Competing leaders
  7. Narrow crotches
  8. Whorls

Pear trees naturally develop narrow angled, upright branches.  Train as much as possible and remove as little as possible. Bending and tying shoots instead of cutting them out, especially on apple and pear trees, can induce early fruit production.  To train properly angled scaffold branches, either weight them, tie them to pegs in the ground or brace them apart with spacer sticks. Visualize the angle to be 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock on a watch. Pears are also excellent candidates for training into an espalier form.