Pears have been cultivated in Europe for thousands of years, as shown by their remains found in Swiss lake dwellings. Modern cultivated European pears are derived from wild varieties of European pears.
They are not as easy to grow as Apples as they require warmer conditions. Thus they are more difficult to grow the further North and West you are in Britain. In more Northerly locations, for the best results you really need to provide a sunny and protected site, such as against a wall or fence. They also flower quite early in the Spring and are liable to damage by Spring frosts or cold winds. Hand pollination with an Artist’s brush, may be necessary if there are few insects around to pollinate the flowers.
Thinning of the fruit will be necessary in June or July to ensure that the remaining pears can reach a good size. Some of the fruitlets will drop naturally at this time but further thinning will be required. Start by removing any diseased or very small or misshapen fruit, and restrict the number of remaining fruitlets to 2 well spaced out, per fruiting spur.
Harvesting time of the Pears is difficult to judge, but may be indicated by a slight change of the underlying skin colour from green to a paler shade. Most Pears should be picked while they are still quite hard. The fruits can become soft and mealy inside as some of the sugars change to starch, if they are left on the tree too long. For the picking of pears the usual advice is to hold the pear in your palm, while gently twisting and pulling the fruit until the pear and the stalk break off from the spur. If it is intended to store pears, they should be picked first in say September while still hard. If pears are to be eaten straight away, they should be left on the tree until October when you may notice a slight change of the skin colour. If any pears fall off in an Autumn gale, then the rest of the fruit should be picked to prevent them being damaged by falling on the ground. Any pears that are damaged should be used right away.
Storage of Pears. For short term storage of several weeks, I use a fridge crispator drawer. For longer storage, pears should be stored in a cool, dark, well ventilated place. They should be inspected regularly for any signs of rot and used immediately.
To encourage the ripening process, place the pears in a warm room till they soften.
Rootstocks for Pears.
Quince “A” is a common rootstocks used for Pears and apart from controlling the height of the trees, also help to encourage earlier fruiting of the trees. Trees will grow up to 7 m in height. It is more vigorous than Quince “C”.
Quince “C” is a common rootstocks used for Pears and apart from controlling the height of the trees, also help to encourage earlier fruiting of the trees. A bush Pear would grow to 5 m on Quince “C”
Suggested varieties of Pears.
Conference. An old variety dating from 1894, a widely planted and reliable Pear, producing heavy crops of long, khaki-green with large russet patches of skin, and sweet juicy fruit. It is a spur bearer, partially self-fertile and in pollination group C. Suitable for the North of the UK, including Glasgow. Should be picked in September for storing and picked in October for eating fresh.
There are other varieties of Pears available, but you should always check with the supplier as the their suitability for your area.