Growing pears

Posted: Monday 27 May 2013
by Adam Pasco

Everything looks promising on the fruit front, but the last thing we need now is cold weather or, worse still, more frost.

Pear tree

Everything looks promising on the fruit front, but the last thing we need now is cold weather or, worse still, more frost. Snow flurries in some areas last week got me worried, but what can you do?

In my part of the East Midlands, the display of blossom in early May was spectacular. Perhaps, after such a long winter, I was just eagerly anticipating spring, but it did look stunning. So did the dandelions – there were great drifts of yellow along roadside verges, at last providing colour to brighten the dull days.

Every inch of branch on my young 'Concorde' pear was lined with blossom. As this picture shows, I think the bees have been active and flower will become fruit. I've only eaten fruit from this tree a couple of times before. Last autumn there were none at all, so I hope this year will be different.

I love the way developing pears stand straight up in a regimented fashion, then gradually bend downwards as they hang under their weight. I now need to be patient to see whether the fruits remain in place and swell, or fall due to lack of pollination. If lots of pears begin to form, then thinning out from June to early July is essential. I’ll remove the smallest ones, so remaining fruits are spaced about 10cm apart along the branches.

Fruit growers refer to the 'June drop', which means that poorly pollinated or damaged fruits simply drop onto the ground during June when they're not viable enough to develop further. By the end of the month you can assess the state of play, but a carpet of immature fruits beneath the tree spells the worst.

For apples and plums, it's not just poor pollination that leads to fruit drop, as pests can be active too. Plum moth or codling moth are two pests that lay eggs on fruit trees around blossom time. Their hatching larvae eat their way into fruits, munching away inside unseen.

A good way to both monitor and control them is to hang pheromone traps in trees. This lures male moths to a sticky end before they have a chance to mate with females. They have worked well for me in the past, but must be put in place early, before these moth pests are active. Once their eggs have been laid you've missed the boat, so this is a job to do now.

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katiebee 27/05/2013 at 14:47

Would a wild pear tree act as pollinator for a domestic pear?

BobTheGardener 27/05/2013 at 15:20

Yes, katiebee, provided it is in flower at the same time as the cultivated tree.

Adam Pasco 29/05/2013 at 21:04

Yes katiebee, that's the lovely thing about having related trees growing in your garden or local area. Crab apples, for instance will pollinate apples, and so on. And BobTheGardener is quite right pointing out that these need to flower at exactly the same time so that bees can transfer pollen from one to the other.

Marinelilium 17/06/2013 at 17:02

Seeing that photograph reminded me that a friend's father used to place a bottle over a fertilised pear and allow it to ripen in the bottle.

When almost ripe the pear and bottle were washed and the bottle filled with a brandy and vodka mix.

Now how do you get the deliciously seeped pear out again?

kaycurtis 22/06/2013 at 20:54

I made the mistake of planting fruit trees in the ground last year that were supposed to miniature, they have romped away, now I am wondering how I can move these three trees that are now too close together, the height of the cherry that is supposed to be grown in a pot is at least ten foot, the apple tree is six foot, I cut the pear tree down but it has sprouted new shoots and leaves, wanted to give them a chance in the ground as I don't think they get enough water in a pot!!!!!!!.

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