Pears, like apples trees have been grown in the United States since just after Europeans first settled in North America. In fact, what is thought to be the oldest living cultivated fruit tree in the country is still alive and well and nearly 400 hundred years old. It was planted just after settlers arrived at Plymouth Rock.
What types of pears can I grow?
Our varieties of European pears are rich in flavor, but if you haven't tried an Asian pear, you're in for a real treat!
If the only home-grown pear variety you have ever known was that old rock hard, gritty textured 'Kieffer' pear growing in your neighbor's yard, you are in for a treat. The pear world has much more to offer.
There are two main types of pear trees for sale. European and Asians Pears. European pears (Pyrus communis) are the classic pear-shaped pears. Bartlett and Bosc pears are good examples seen in grocery stores. European pears are richly flavored, have juicy white flesh and a smooth firm texture. The home gardener has more pear varieties to choose than the stores offer, including two excellent varieties offered by Gurneys, Honeysweet and Ambrosia.
Most European pears are picked slightly under ripe and stored in the refrigerator for two to three weeks. After being stored cool they can be placed at room temperature to finish ripening. This process helps create the smooth, melting texture and rich flavor.
Asian pears (Pyrus pyrifolia) are quite different. Their shape is round, the flesh is crisp, crunchy and juicy and extremely sweet. Asian pears have more of a crunch like apples. Some people refer to them as the apple pear. They can be picked and eaten ripe, right off the tree. No refrigeration needed to ripen.
Two favorites that Gurneys offers are 'Chojuro' and Drippin Honey. 'Chojuro' is a classic asian pear with a rich butterscotch flavor and 'Drippin Honey' is a honey sweet, juicy pear with a delightful crunch.
We have a breeding breakthrough!
I mentioned two main types of pears. Well, there is a third very unusual type of pear. Its name is 'Crisp 'n Sweet' and it is a cross of an Asian pear and a European pear. It combines the best fresh eating qualities of each type. 'Crisp 'n Sweet' has the sweet rich flavor of a European pear with the crispy texture of an Asian pear. Plus, can be picked ripe, off the tree.
Crisp 'n Sweet is not only bigger than your typical Green Jade variety, but it combines the best traits of both European and Asian pears.
Does size matter when choosing a rootstock?
We offer Pear trees on two different rootstocks, Standard or full size and semi-dwarf. The rootstock we use determines the mature tree height. Our rootstocks also have strong resistance to several common diseases including fire blight and pear decline.
Standard size tree rootstock produces a full-size tree that can reach 20-25 feet when mature. They are fire blight resistant and well anchored with a vigorous root system. When trees reach maturity, fruit production is heavy.
Our semi-dwarf rootstock produces a medium size tree that reaches 12-15 feet tall at maturity. The rootstock used is resistant to many pear diseases and insects. Plus, the trees produce fruit at an earlier age than the standard size tree.
Currently we do not offer a pear on a dwarf rootstock. The rootstocks currently available to produce a dwarf tree have too many flaws for us to consider offering them. We want our customers to have a good growing experience and these may present some problems. We continue trial any new dwarfing rootstock with the hopes of finding one perfect for our customers.
Gurney's Pear Trees
Gurney's offers all these varieties in easier to care for/harvest, semi-dwarf sizes!
Many Bartlett pear trees are susceptible to fire blight as seen here.
If fire blight is a concern, choose a resistant variety like Moonglow, and put your worries aside!
Are pears easy to grow?
Pears are one of the easiest fruit trees to grow. You are halfway there just by giving them full sun, average soil and water during extended dry spells.
Fire blight is the main disease to worry about and that can be avoided by choosing a resistant variety. Are you a big fan of Bartlett pears? Unfortunately, Bartlett is prone to get fire blight. The good news is you can grow 'Moonglow' pear which has all the same delicious qualities without being susceptible to fire blight.
Do I need a pair of Pears to cross-pollinate?
Some pears are do not need another variety for pollination, but most will. Even the self-fruitful varieties fruit better and heavier when they are cross pollinated with a different variety. 'Honeysweet' is one variety Gurney's offers that produces a full crop without the aid of another variety. To help pick the perfect pollinating partner, see our pollination chart here.
Buying pear trees is one of the best investments you can make. These cold-hardy nearly disease-free trees will reward you and generations to come with beautiful blossoms, a picturesque tree and delicious fruit.