Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Allan Savory's TED Talk: How to green the desert and reverse climate change

Allan Savory

This presentation has been going around the "Permaculture World" for the last month. It is amazing. This is a must watch video if you have any interest in repairing our broken ecosystems.

From the TED website:
“Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,” begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And it's happening to about two-thirds of the world’s grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes -- and his work so far shows -- that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert. 

Allan Savory works to promote holistic management in the grasslands of the world

Monday, March 25, 2013

Great, Quick Video on Asian Pears

I recently wrote an article about Growing Asian Pears and an article outlining 25 Varieties of Asian Pears. As I was researching information about pollination charts (see tomorrow's post), I came across this video.

Tom Spellman from Dave Wilson Nursery talks about some of the more popular Asian Pear varieties. Great video, only 3 minutes long. Fun stuff!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Update - What I am Brewing: Azorean Blackberry Fig Honey Wine

My Blackberry Fig Mead... after almost 7 months of aging, it is still not ready!

Update: 22 March 2013
I finally had some time to rack (transfer) the mead into another carboy (glass jug). As you can see in the photo above, the red color has remained, though it has softened a bit. I stole a small glass to sample it. The mead was a very beautiful light pink in color, not the deeper red of the whole five gallon (19 L) batch. There was a very harsh, acidic first taste to it, but after that passes there was a very good flavor that lingered around for quite a while. I couldn't quite identify what the flavor was, probably because I had such a small sample, but I really like it. I am hoping that with some additional aging, the harsh flavor will mellow.

Today, I racked the mead to a new carboy leaving the lees (sediment) on the bottom of the original carboy. The new volume was lower than desired, so I added some additional honey water. I mixed 6 ounces honey with 18 ounces filtered water. This got it closer to the top of the carboy. I could have added more, but to be honest, I wasn't exactly sure how much additional volume I needed, and I didn't have a whole lot of time to mix and add even more.

Finally, I added a pack of yeast (Saccharomyces cervisiae (ex-bayanus) for sparkling wines from Lalvin). My original plan was to make this mead entirely a wild fermentation experiment. However, after waiting seven months, I think I lost my nerve! The flavor is developing well, and I really just didn't want to mess things up, especially after such a long wait. My future plan will be to run some side by side experiments (which I will document here) comparing completely wild fermentation, partially wild fermentation (like this one), and as non-wild as I can make it. Then I will be able to do some side-by-side taste tests and see which one turns out best. However, with just one batch, I really wanted success more than scientific results. The raw material was more difficult to come by since I was not raising the blackberries or honey myself. Once I get these things producing on my land, then I will be doing quite a lot of experimentation.

This batch of mead likely needs another 3-6 months before it is truly drinkable. I will let this fermentation cycle run its course, and then I will bottle it. Once in the bottles, I will be able to sample some every few months and taste how it matures. I expect it will only get better with time.

Name: Blackberry Fig Mead
Brew Date: 28 August 2012

Okay, to be technically correct, a mead is a honey wine. When fruit is added to mead, it is then called a melomel. So this concoction should be called a Blackberry Fig Melomel, but few people know what a mead is, let alone a melomel. With all that said, here is what I did...

  • 1 Gallon Azorean Raw Honey
  • 1 Gallon Figs, mostly skinned, from my garden
  • 1 Pint Azorean Blackberries, from my garden wall
  • 4 Gallons Water

  • In a 6.5 gallon bucket, slowly added 1 gallon honey to 4 gallons water, stirring constantly
  • Added figs and stirred
  • Stirred 3-4 times a day - a cap of fruit and seeds formed each time the water settled and needed to be broken up a few times each day
  • Let ferment for a total of 3 days
  • Racked (transferred the liquid) to a 5 gallon carboy, leaving behind the fruit and lees
  • Immediately added fresh blackberries, added air lock
  • Let ferment for 7 days
  • Racked to another 5 gallon carboy
  • Topped off with fresh honey water (with same 1:4 ratio as initial)
  • Let slowly ferment and mature... this is currently where things are at

  • This is a completely wild fermentation. I didn't boil or sterilize any of the honey or fruit. No packaged or extra yeast was added. The yeast that is fermenting this mead is only from the raw honey, the figs, and the blackberries.
  • I still maintained a very clean environment, as much as I would if I were brewing a beer with selected yeast strains.
  • I left a few skins on the figs as this is where I figured the highest concentration of natural yeasts would reside. However, I had read that the fig skins can give a bit of an off flavor, so the vast majority of the figs were skinned.
  • My goal is to let this ferment/age for a few months, maybe rack once or twice more, then bottle and age for 6-12 months before sampling... if I can wait that long.

Figs from my garden.

Day 2 of the fig and honey fermentation... smelled like Fig Newtons!

The melomel after the first racking.

The pint of blackberries from my garden wall.
I only fell off the wall once during harvesting!

Just after I added the blackberries.
Next to this is a small reserve of honey water that wouldn't fit.
I am letting this ferment without any fruit as well.

After about 5 days of fermenting with the blackberries, the liquid took on a beautiful pink hue.

Racked off the blackberries, topped off, and ready for aging.

Just racked into a clean carboy after 7 months of aging.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Pollard Lot Next to Home.

A Pollard lot. 
These trees reach 20-30 feet (6-9 meters) above the stool (tree trunk).

I drove by this lot today and had to take some photos. I have not seen such a perfect example of Pollarding before; all the components were there to see all at once. I got a few odd glances from the Azorean locals as they drove past. I am sure they were wondering what this American was doing taking photos, but I didn't mind at all.

Pollarding is a type of coppicing. I have written about coppicing in one of my previous articles, and I would recommend reading that article for a more in depth explanation. 

A recently harvested Pollard.

In brief, Pollarding is a pruning technique where one cuts off most of the branches from a tree at, or above, head level. The branches can be used for any number of purposes: posts, poles, fencing, tools, crafts, building, firewood, charcoal, etc. Within a number of years, the branches will grow back out of the pollard, and the process can be repeated. Only certain species of tree can be Pollarded (or Coppiced, for that matter), and each species varies in how often it can be harvested. 

I do not know the purpose of this Pollard lot. It could be for firewood, but these branches are long and beautifully straight. I also do not know the species of tree. I asked a few people walking by, but my Portuguese is not so good. The best I could get was, "Oh, yeah, we all just call it a shade tree." 

I will try to drive by this lot from time to time and hopefully catch someone on the property. I will try to find out the answers to my questions, and if I get them, I will share them on this page. Nevertheless, these were some great photos I had to share.

These poles, after being trimmed, are about 20 feet (6 meters) long 
and 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) in diameter.
Great wood with a lot of potential!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Asian Pear Varieties... just a sampling

I recently wrote an article about Asian Pears. Being that I am just barely familiar with this tree, other than an occasional taste of unknown varieties, I thought I would find some information about a few of the varieties that are out there. Included in this list of 25 are the most common, popular, flavorful varieties as well as a few traditional ones and brand new ones. I tried to list them in roughly the order that they ripen. 

As always, this website is about me gathering information so that I can go back and reference it as I need. There are some areas of missing information that I just couldn't find in a reasonable amount of time. If you have a link to a site that provides any of the missing information in my listings, please feel free to post a comment. So without further ado...

1. Ichiban Nashi ("First Pear")
  • Season: Early. Ripening ahead of 'Shinseiki', 'Shinsui', and 'Kosui.'
  • Size: Large
  • Shape: 
  • Color: Light gold to brown. Russet.
  • Taste: Sweet
  • Storage: keeps poorly
  • Fertility: 
  • Pests/Disease: 
  • Notes: 

2. Shinsui ("New Juice")
  • Season: Early (after 'Ichiban Nashi' and before 'Shinseiki')
  • Size: Medium
  • Shape: Round with a little flattening
  • Color: Orange-yellow-brown, russet. Mild grit. Off-white flesh.
  • Taste: Outstanding flavor, very sweet, crisp, very juicy.
  • Storage: Delicate. Bruises easily. Stores for up to a month.
  • Fertility: 
  • Pests/Disease: Moderately susceptible to fire blight.
  • Notes: Precocious and very productive

3. Kosui ("Juice of Good Fortune")
Cross of Kikusui ("floating chrysanthemum") x Wase-Kozo. Japanese selection introduced in 1959.
  • Season: Early
  • Size: Medium to Small
  • Shape: 
  • Color: Light green to yellow-golden-bronze. Russet. White flesh.
  • Taste: Very sweet, slightly tart, juicy, tender, crisp. 
  • Storage: Excellent. Up to 5 months.
  • Fertility: 
  • Pests/Disease: Resistant to Alternaria black-spot and moderately resistant to pear scab. Leaves sensitive to 2-spot spider mites. Very susceptible to fire blight.
  • Notes: A strong-growing tree with leaves sensitive many sprays.

4. Shinseiki ("New Century")
Cross of Nijisseki ("20th Century") x Chojuro ("Plentiful"). Japanese selection introduced in 1945.
  • Season: Early
  • Size: Medium
  • Shape: Globular, lop-sided
  • Color: Green to yellow-green to bright yellow, smooth. White flesh.
  • Taste: Sweet, slightly tart, firm to rock hard, crunchy, course, juicy
  • Storage: Excellent, 3-5 months
  • Fertility: Self-Fertile, but more productive with another pollenizer
  • Pests/Disease: Fire blight susceptible, but some have moderate resistance
  • Notes: Fruit hangs on the tree well.

5. Hosui ("Abundant Juice")
Cross of (Kikusui x Yakumo) x Yakumo. Japanese selection introduced in 1972. Touted as the best flavored Asian Pear.
  • Season: Early-Mid
  • Size: Large
  • Shape: Round-globular
  • Color: Yellow-gold-brown, heavily russeted
  • Taste: Tender, sweet, brandy aroma, low-acid, juicy. Overripe specimens develop a rummy taste. 
  • Storage: Good. 4-8 weeks.
  • Fertility: 
  • Pests/Disease: Good resistance to pear scab disease. Susceptible to fire blight and bacterial canker.
  • Notes: The tree is vigorous, willowy and spreading. Loose growth habit.

6. Chojuro ("Plentiful")
Chance seedling of Pyrus pyrifolia. Japanese selection introduced in 1895.
  • Season: Early-Mid
  • Size: Medium-Large
  • Shape: Round-flattish
  • Color: Brown-orange. Russet. White flesh.
  • Taste: Slightly aromatic, butterscotch flavor. Flavor improves with storage. Not as juicy as newer varieties. Moderately gritty in some seasons.
  • Storage: Excellent. Stores for up to 5 months, but bruises easily.
  • Fertility: 
  • Pests/Disease: Moderately susceptible to
    fire blight; apparently resistant to pear scab and Alternaria black spot.
  • Notes: Tree is precocious and productive. It must be picked when first yellow-brown in color or fruit is subject to severe bruising and skin discoloration.

7. Seigyoku ("Sapphire")
Hybrid of Nijisseki ("20th Century") x Chojuro ("Plentiful")
  • Season: Early-Mid
  • Size: 
  • Shape: Round
  • Color:  Light green to yellow, smooth.
  • Taste: Average quality
  • Storage: 
  • Fertility: 
  • Pests/Disease: 
  • Notes: 

8. Nijisseki ("20th Century"), aka Nijusseiki
Japanese selection introduced in 1898. Considered the standard for flavor.
  • Season: Mid
  • Size: Small
  • Shape: Uniform, round-globular, lop-sided
  • Color: Pale yellow-green. White flesh.
  • Taste: Sweet, slightly tart, firm, very juicy, crisp, very little grittiness. Mildly aromatic.
  • Storage: Excellent, 3-6 months, but bruises easily
  • Fertility: 
  • Pests/Disease: Quite susceptible to pear scab and fire blight.
  • Notes: Semi-spur habit, vigorous. It should not be grown on P. communis rootstock because it is severely dwarfed. The fruit ripens in mid-August. It grows well on P. betulaefolia, P. calleryana, and P. serotina. Old trees need spur removal and rejuvenating pruning to maintain fruit size. The tree is naturally well shaped and easy to handle.

9. Yoinashi
  • Season: Mid. Ripens with Nijiesiki ("20th Century")
  • Size: Large
  • Shape: Brown
  • Color: 
  • Taste: Considered excellent
  • Storage: 
  • Fertility: 
  • Pests/Disease: 
  • Notes: 

10. Tse Li (aka Tsu Li)
Complex hybrid of Pyrus ussuriensis x (P. x bretschneideri).
  • Season: Mid
  • Size: Large
  • Shape: Football-shaped or Pear-shaped
  • Color: Green
  • Taste: Not edible right off the tree. Taste is better with more storage time. Very sweet, aromatic, almost no acid
  • Storage: Amazing. 6-10 months. 
  • Fertility: Ya Li is appropriate pollenizer. 
  • Pests/Disease: Some fire blight tolerance. Seems to be damaged less by insects than Japanese varieties.
  • Notes: Blooms very early, so is especially susceptible to late spring frosts. 'Tsu Li' in California and 'Tsu Li' in China are not the same cultivar.

11. Yoinashi ("Good Pear")
New variety.
  • Season: Mid
  • Size: Large to medium
  • Shape: 
  • Color: Golden-brown-buff. Off-white flesh.
  • Taste:  Good flavor. Tender, crisp, juicy. 
  • Storage: Good. Up to 3 months.
  • Fertility: 
  • Pests/Disease: Trees appear to resist bacterial canker but are very susceptible to fire blight.
  • Notes: 

12. Shinko ("New Success")
Seedling of Nijisseki ("20th Century"). Japanese selection introduced in 1941.
  • Season: Mid-Late
  • Size: Medium to Large
  • Shape: Round to slightly flat
  • Color: Gold-bronze. Russet.
  • Taste: Distinctive rich, sweet, nutty flavor, juicy, crisp, firm.
  • Storage: Good. Up to 2 months, but may make it to 4 months
  • Fertility: 
  • Pests/Disease: Nearly to completely resistant to fire blight
  • Notes: Fine winter keeper. Very productive.

13. Daisui Li
New University of California hybrid
  • Season: Mid-Late
  • Size: Very large
  • Shape: Round and slightly flattened
  • Color: Greenish to yellow. Very white flesh.
  • Taste: Sweet with a bit of tartness, crisp, slightly coarse. 
  • Storage: Excellent. 3-6 months.
  • Fertility: Pollinated by 'Shin Li'
  • Pests/Disease: 
  • Notes: Trees are extremely vigorous

14. Shin Li
New University of California hybrid. Hybrid between Japanese variety Kikusui and Tse Li. Introduced in 1988.
  • Season: Mid to Late
  • Size: Very large
  • Shape: Round and slightly flattened
  • Color: Yellowish to light green. Russet
  • Taste: Sweet and spicy, cinnamon aroma.
  • Storage: Excellent. 3-4 months.
  • Fertility: Pollinated by 'Dasui Li'
  • Pests/Disease: Conflicting reports about susceptibility/resistance to fire blight.
  • Notes: Trees are extremely vigorous

15. Olympic (aka Korean Giant, Large Korean, Dan Beh)
  • Season: Mid-Late?
  • Size: Very large
  • Shape: 
  • Color: Orange-bronze. Russet. White flesh.
  • Taste: Sweet with earthy flavor, crisp, juicy. 
  • Storage: Excellent. Up to 5 months.
  • Fertility: 
  • Pests/Disease: Excellent tolerance to fire blight. 
  • Notes: One of the more cold-hardy Pyrus pyrifolia.

16. Kikusui ("Floating Chrysanthemum")
The floating chrysanthemum is the crest of the Japanese royal family.
  • Season: Mid to Late
  • Size: Medium
  • Shape: Roundish-flat
  • Color: Yellow-green, dull
  • Taste: Similar to Nijiesiki ("20th Century"), sweet, slightly tart, firm, very juicy, crisp, gritty/coarse. Mildly aromatic.
  • Storage: Tender skin
  • Fertility: 
  • Pests/Disease: 
  • Notes: Mother of many new varieties. Fruit has preharvest drop problems. Tree has average vigor.

17. Ya Li ("Duck Pear")
A variety of Pyrus ussuriensis. An old Chinese variety of very good quality, it is the most important pear cultivar in China.
  • Season: Late. Ripening a month after Nijiesiki ("20th Century")
  • Size: Large
  • Shape: Pear-shaped with long stem
  • Color: Green to yellow-green, smooth, slightly waxy. White flesh.
  • Taste: Sweet-tart, mild, crisp. 
  • Storage: Excellent. Tender. Up to 5 months.
  • Fertility: Requires cross-pollination by other early flowering cultivars such as 'Tsu Li' and 'Seuri'.
  • Pests/Disease: Somewhat tolerant of fire blight (probably because of early bloom time). 
  • Notes: Vigorous grower. Hardy. Trees are very productive and vigorous on all pear rootstocks. Blooms very early, so frost susceptible; 4 or 5 days earlier than Japanese varieties. This cultivar is slower to come into production than most Japanese cultivars.

18. Niitaka ("New Quantity")
  • Season: Late
  • Size: Large
  • Shape: Round, oblong
  • Color: Yellow-orange-brown, Russet.
  • Taste: Bland, average flavor, firm, coarse.
  • Storage: Good. Up to 2 months.
  • Fertility: The flowers are pollen-sterile but it sets well when cross-pollinated with most varieties.
  • Pests/Disease: Fire blight susceptible.
  • Notes: High production.

19. Arirang ("Sweet Pear")
Korean variety.
  • Season: Late
  • Size: Large
  • Shape: 
  • Color: Orange-brown
  • Taste: Very sweet and juicy, crisp, firm
  • Storage: Excellent. Up to 6 months.
  • Fertility: 
  • Pests/Disease: 
  • Notes: 

20. Atago
  • Season: Late
  • Size: Large
  • Shape: 
  • Color: Brown-orange. Russet.
  • Taste: Sweet, slightly tart, crisp
  • Storage: Good. Up to 4 months.
  • Fertility: 
  • Pests/Disease: 
  • Notes: Trees are upright, spreading and
    medium in vigor. 

21. Seuri (in Chinese, it may be Se Li "Red Pear")
  • Season: Late
  • Size: Large
  • Shape: Round
  • Color: Dark orange to yellow. Russet. Yellow to white flesh. 
  • Taste: Sweet, rich, crisp, hints of apricot. Fruit flavor is excellent, especially in hot climates.
  • Storage: Good. 1-3 months.
  • Fertility: Should be pollinated by 'Ya Li', another early bloomer.
  • Pests/Disease: Conflicting reports about susceptibility/resistance to fire blight
  • Notes: Delicious but unattractive. Trees used as pollinizers. It is a low-chill, early blooming variety.

22. Okusankichi ("Madame Luck")
Traditional Japanese variety from mid-19th century.
  • Season: Very Late
  • Size: 
  • Shape: Oval or turban-shaped.
  • Color: Brown. Russet.
  • Taste: Sweet-tart, very firm, crisp, slightly coarse. Flavor improves with storage.
  • Storage: Good.
  • Fertility: 
  • Pests/Disease: 
  • Notes: 

23. Sweet 'N' Sour
Developed by Virginia Gold Orchard
  • Season:
  • Size: 
  • Shape: 
  • Color: Green to yellow. Smooth. White flesh.
  • Taste: Sweet, very juicy, firm, crisp.
  • Storage: Good. Up to 4 months.
  • Fertility: 
  • Pests/Disease: 
  • Notes: 

24. Sunburst
Developed by Virginia Gold Orchard
  • Season:
  • Size: Large
  • Shape: 
  • Color: Yellow skin with "splash of russet" around the stem. White flesh.
  • Taste: Unique with a hint of ginger, very sweet, very juicy, tender, crisp.
  • Storage: Excellent. Up to 6 months.
  • Fertility: 
  • Pests/Disease: 
  • Notes: 

25. Autumn Sweet
Developed by Virginia Gold Orchard
  • Season:
  • Size: Medium to large
  • Shape: 
  • Color: Golden-orange. Russet. Slightly roughened skin.
  • Taste: Very sweet and juicy.
  • Storage: Fair. Up to 1 month.
  • Fertility: 
  • Pests/Disease: 
  • Notes: 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Permaculture Plants: Asian Pears

The Asian Pear is quite different than its European relative.

Common Name: Asian Pears
Scientific Name: Pyrus species
Family: Rosaceae (the Rose family)

Asian Pears can be russeted and light brown or clear and yellow.

Common Species:
  • Chinese Pear, Nashi Pear, Sand Pear (Pyrus pyrifolia)
  • Siberian Pear, Harbin Pear (Pyrus ussuriensis)
  • Chinese White Pear, Ya Pear (Pyrus x bretschneideris)

Asian Pears are not nearly as common in the West as their closely related cousin, the European Pear, but they are quickly gaining in popularity. They ­are typically round (apple-shaped), although the Chinese White Pear is more “pear”-shaped.  Asian Pears are more similar to an apple in texture and a cross between an apple and European Pear in flavor. They are at their best when picked ripe. All you need is to taste a perfectly ripe Asian Pear, and you will make room for it in your Forest Garden.

There are three types of Asian pears.

  • Round or roundish-flat fruit with green to yellow skin
  • Round or roundish-flat fruit with yellow to brown skin and bronze to gold russet (little dots)
  • Pear-shaped with green skin or brown skin and bronze russet 

Native to the eastern Asia, specifically China, Korea, and Japan, Asian Pears are now grown throughout their native land as well as in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.

  • Asian Pears are the oldest known cultivated pear.
  • Asian Pears contain enzymes that tenderize meat, which is why they are used in marinades.

Fall Fruit Salad with Asian Pears

Asian Pear and Tangerine Salad

Asian Pear Wine and Liquors by Subarashi Kudamono (means "wonderful fruit" in Japanese)

Primary Uses:
  • Fresh eating – Asian Pears are more similar to an Apple in texture and a cross between an Apple and European Pear in flavor. Eat when fully ripe or it will be dry and hard. Great in salads.
  • Cooking – Asian Pears have a high water content, so they are not used identical to European Pears. They are great when used for marinating (see trivia below). Drier varieties may be used for cooking, baking, pies, tarts, etc., but they really are best cooked after they have been pureed. The crisp texture is not softened with cooking as with European Pears.
  • Sauces – In Asia, the pears are often ground and mixed into sauces instead of other sweeteners
  • Preserved – Preserves, Jams, Jellies, etc – will often need longer cooking times to reduce the high water content. Asian Pears dehydrate very well, and the dehydrated fruit can be used in many recipes for desserts or just eaten as is.

Secondary Uses:
  • General insect (especially bees) nectar and pollen plant
  • Wildlife food
  • Wildlife shelter
  • Primary or adjunt flavor component in beer, wine, cider, perry, mead, liquor, etc.
  • Can likely be Coppiced, although I can find no good reference for this.
  • Wood – Poles, posts, stakes, tools, crafts
  • Wood – Firewood, charcoal
  • Wood – Smoking/Barbeque: pear wood gives a soft “fruity” smoke to meats, similar to apple wood

Yield: Standard root stock – 3-8 bushels (105-280 liters) or 170-450 lbs (80-200 kg); semi-dwarf root stock – 1-2 bushels (35-70 liters); dwarf root stock – 1 bushel (35 liters) or 56 lbs (25 kg)

Harvesting: Late Summer to Autumn (August-October), but can vary based on variety and location. Pick when still crunchy (like an apple) and giving off a strong aroma – the strong and sweet fragrance of a ripe Asian Pear is the key to knowing when it is ripe. Softness is used to help determine ripeness in European Pears, but not Asian Pears.

Storage: Best when used right away, but can be stored for up to a month or more if kept in a cool, dry place and handled carefully to prevent bruising

Asian Pears will be covered in the beautiful flowers every Spring.
'Large Korean' variety of Chinese Pear (Pyrus pyrifoliaI)

Siberian Pear (Pyrus ussuriensis)

Siberian Pear (Pyrus ussuriensis)

USDA Hardiness Zone: Zone 4-9, but really depends on the species and variety
AHS Heat Zone: Zone 9-3, but really depends on the species and variety
Chill Requirement: 300-750 chilling hours/units depening on the variety

Plant Type: Small to Medium-sized Tree depending on the root stock
Leaf Type: Deciduous
Forest Garden Use: Canopy Layer, Sub-Canopy (Understory) Layer
Cultivars/Varieties: Many varieties available. (see my article about Asian Pear varieties)

Pollination: Asian Pears traditionally require cross-pollination, although a few varieties are self-fruitful. This requires two different varieties of Asian Pear. Some European Pears (Pyrus communis) will cross-pollinate Asian Pears. Because there is such a wide variety of pears and cross-pollination variations, it is best to get cross-pollination information from the nursery or catalog company you are purchasing your pears. Pollinated by insects.
Flowering: Spring (May)

Life Span:
Years to Begin Bearing: 3-7 years depending on the variety and rootstock
Years of Useful Life: up to 300 years. Dwarfing rootstocks live shorter lives

Siberian Pear (Pyrus ussuriensis) in Autumn
Chinese Pear (Pyrus pyrifolia) in Autumn waiting for harvest

Asian Pear in Autumn after a frost

  • Chinese Pear (Pyrus pyrifolia): 25-30 feet (7.5-9 meters) tall and 20-25 feet (6-7.5 meters) wide
  • Siberian Pear (Pyrus ussuriensis): 30-50 feet (9-15 meters) tall and 25-30 feet (7.5-9 meters) wide
  • Chinese White Pear (Pyrus x bretschneideris): 20-25 feet (6-7.5 meters) tall and 10-20 feet (3-6 meters) wide

Roots: Fibrous
Growth Rate: Medium

Harvesting a large Asian Pear at Virginia Gold Orchards

Light: Prefers full sun
Shade: Tolerates very little shade… shade is best avoided with pears
Moisture: Medium soil moisture preferred
pH: most species prefer fairly neutral soil (6.0-7.5), but many can tolerate a bit wider pH ranges

Special Considerations for Growing:
  • Pears to not tolerate juglone (natural growth inhibitor produced by Black Walnut and its relatives). Make sure you have other varieties of  trees and shrubs as a buffer between your walnuts and pears.
  • Pears are susceptible to Fire Blight, Pear Scab, and Canker, so try to choose varieties that are resistant to these diseases.
  • Make sure to consider flowering times when planning which varieties you choose. You need to make sure that you have compatible varieties (i.e. ones that will pollinate each other) flowering at the same time.

Named varieties are usually grafted because pear cultivars do not grow “true to type”, meaning that seeds will grow into trees that produce fruit that is likely to be nothing like the parent stock. If growing from seed, they will need 8-16 weeks cold stratification for germination. Less improved species and non-cultivars are often grown from seed.

Typically, Asian Pears are pruned once a year to once every 2-3 years.