PearTree - Cultivation Guide

The aspect and planting for Pear trees is the same as described in the cultivation guide for Apples. If anything, though, Pear trees welcome a warmer, sunnier situation, especially the later ripening cultivars. There are varieties good for Northern localities, which will be described later. Rootstocks Remember the rootstock determines how big the tree will grow. There are no-where near the number of rootstocks raised for Pear trees as there are for apples; for garden situations the 'Quince' stocks are the best. Seedling rootstocks for Pears are only for very large areas, and then take considerably longer to bear fruit. Most Quince stocks will reach fruiting age at 3-5 years, sometimes earlier with intensive growing systems and precocious varieties. Quince C is the best garden rootstock. It makes an easily manageable tree of around 8' in height with pruning and suits most soils except the poorly drained. Tends to promote heavy yielding and maintains good fruit size. Good as a bush tree or cordon, suitable for fan or espalier. Quince A is more vigorous than the above, rwaching 12-14' unchecked. An ideal orchard sized tree, and suits poorer soils better than the above. Capable of very heavy crops and the most oft-used stock for Pears. The best rootstock for training as a fan or espalier. Pyrodwarf is a relatively recent introduction which makes the smallest Pear tree of all. Suitable for growing in larger pots and the only Pear stock that can justifiably be called dwarf, can make a very fine tree of 6-8' in height. Pyrus communis is a very vigorous tree, easily reaching 20-25' or more. Fast growing but slow to reach fruiting age, it is very seldom planted now even in commercial orchard situations. Planting & soil cultivation for Pear trees SOIL PREPARATION. Tree fruits are long lived, so to achieve the best results it is important to prepare the ground before planting. The first essential is to remove all perennial weeds by forking out and burning. The soil should then be dug a full spade depth and broken up. It is beneficial at this time to add well rotted manure or compost etc., to the soil as the promotes healthy growth, about every 25 square feet, should receive one barrow load on average. Light hungry soils, more, and good fertile soils less. Bonemeal at 2oz per square yard may be forked in at this time if required. PLANTING. If on arrival of the trees the soil conditions are not suitable the trees should be heeled into a sheltered part of the garden. If this is not possible keep the tree in an unheated frost-free area and keep the roots moist with damp straw or a similar material until planting. Mark out the position for planting and drive in the stake which is to support your tree, This will normally be driven 18 inches into the soil or deeper on very light soils. The top of the stake should be 2 inches to 3 inches below the bottom branches of the tree after planting to avoid chafing. If the roots of the tree are at all dry, soak for 1 hour before planting. The next stage is the most important of all and must be correct to ensure the best results. A hole, deep and wide enough to take all of the roots of the tree when fully spread out, must first be dug. Dig into the base of the hole a bucket of compost, peat, well rotted manure or turf etc., and this will leave a slight mound in the centre of the hole. Place the tree on the mound with the stem approximately 2 to 3 inches away from the stake you have previously driven in, ensuring that the lowest tree branches are clear of the top of the stake. Plant the tree to the same depth as it was when in the nursery, which can be seen by the soil mark on the tree. The scion where the tree is budded or grafted onto the rootstock should be at least 4 inches above the soil surface after planting. Sprinkle the most fertile soil over the roots and occasionally shake the tree gently so that the soil falls among the roots. This process is continued until the hole is nearly full and the soil should then be firmed. Fill the remainder of the hole and firm again. Planting is now completed and the tree should be tied to the stake using a propriety tree tie. MULCHING. The tree can be mulched after planting to improve conditions further but be sure not to place the mulch next to the trunk of the tree as this can cause fungal disease. A gap of approximately 2 inches should be left clear at the base. An 18 inch area can be mulched to a depth of up to 3 inches using well rotted compost, manure or peat etc. Pollination Is as described for apples and is an important aspect to consider when choosing varieties. Make sure they are in the same or adjacent pollinating groups to ensure a good set of fruit, if in doubt check with the nursery before buying. Self fertile varieties tend to be the all-round most reliable and are invaluable in settings where only one Pear tree can be planted. Conference, Concorde and the new Invincible [Delwinor] are by far the best and are also good for Northern locales. Improved Fertility and Durondeau are also self fertile to a certain extent and worth considering. Harvesting Pick the fruits when they readily part from the tree or when the very first windfalls are observed. Gently part from the branch by cupping the base of the fruit with one hand whilst disengaging the stalk from the branch with the other. Care does pay dividends when picking Pears as they are very prone to bruising, especially when nearly ripe. Stored fruits can spoil even if slightly bruised.

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