View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Mon Jul 28, 2014 3:31 pm



Reply to topic  [ 6 posts ] 
 Improving Pear Tree 
Author Message
Post Improving Pear Tree
This is a question I'm asking for an old friend without a computer, but he has a great and beautiful garden in SW Portland, Oregon. He specifically would like to know how to improve the quality of the fruit of his 50-year old Bartlett pear tree. Thank you.


Mon Feb 21, 2005 6:17 pm

Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1146
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Post 
I inherited a Bartlett Pear of that very age. Its limbs were choked with two-inch thick moss, the tree was around 30 feet tall, and hadn't been pruned for decades. I scraped off the moss and risked my life giving it a good thinning.
Pears are known for their upright growth, this one had developed two main trunks. After removing all of the smaller (generally 2 inches in diameter) "limbs" headed straight up, I did some creative grafting where I'd sawn off both of those top trunks at about 15 feet. Left with two - 6 inch diameter stubs, I "crown grafted" a second variety onto both; tied over their shoots the following spring; and have pruned them as limbs ever since! The grafting is not necessary; just unique...
The heavy pruning was necessary. Lichens had also choked the limbs, so a couple years spraying with lime-sulfur cleared them out. Bartlett's are very susceptible to scab and I don't spray to control it, but I do thin the most mangled of young fruit, leaving the smoother skinned pears to develop.
Scab infections vary with Spring dampness... But Bartlett's are self-fertile, set too heavy, and must be thinned to improve fruit size; decrease limb loading; and, as mentioned, to help elimate some of the scabbed fruit. If this tree is in need of heavy pruning, and gets it; it may respond by sending up a gazillion "water sprouts" the following year. Nipping them off in the Summer can help "balance" it out. But this is a tricky maneuver ~ if you cut too many of the new shoots, the tree can't feed itself, or its fruit... If left alone till dormant - simply prune most of them off.
If any of this doesn't make since, let me know :wink: ; seems like a long answer to a short question!

_________________
Home Orchard Society Coming Events: http://www.homeorchardsociety.org/events/


Wed Feb 23, 2005 9:11 pm
Profile

Joined: Thu May 05, 2005 8:48 am
Posts: 4
Location: WA
Post 
I have inherited a pear tree of similar age. I am not sure what kind of pear tree it is, but I am guessing Bartlett or Anjou (Green). Those of you that know pears well may find that funny, but we have only lived here through one year of fruit, so I am still figuring out which one we have.
At any rate, I think it is a semi dwarf- it is probably 18' tall, and looks like it has tried to grow taller, but it is surrounded by semi dwarf apples and italian plums, so I am guessing it was planted about the same time as those.
We too had/have a big moss and lichen issue. I just started this year with lime sulfur, which is partly why I am writing.
I pruned the tree this winter (probably February?)- it was still very cold, that is all I know for sure. Of all of our fruit trees, I pruned the plum and pears the most conservatively, and the apples rather agressively. It would appear as though proper pruning had not taken place for perhaps upwards of 15 years... which produce many many huge mounds of branches... I intend to keep up with the trees over the years so I never have to go through that again!

At issue is the pear tree right now. It did receive a mild pruning in Feb., as I said, AND, I sprayed it with Lily Miller Lime Sulfur, according to directions, twice. ONCE with Dormant Spray Oil, and once without. The first spray with the oil was one that I am not too sure about, since the Lili Miller bottles said not to mix lime with the oil, and the other bottle said to mix them together. I did call and ask, and they said it was ok to mix them (for dormant sprays). With that spraying, I hit the whole tree... trunk to top... drenched it.

The second spraying, which was lime only, was done when about 75% of petals had dropped.

The problem I am seeing is this. Last year this tree was just SWAMPED with pears. Hundreds. We were not prepared to handle so many. But, they were rather scab covered (hence the spraying).

This year, my blossoms are falling off at their bases (where they connect to the tree). It would appear so far that I am going to get about 5-10% of the pears I got last year. Something must be wrong.


What has caused this???


ps- I have gone and looked at some pear identification sites, and I think what I have is Bosc pears... they are more of a brown with a hint of green when not ripe, VERY hard, and when they ripen the green hue under the brown turns to more of a yellow...

Could it be that with a very odd spring (we had some VERY warm weather way early, and then it got cold again) that we are losing blooms to frost, OR, perhaps the buds opened too early for other pears in the area to cross with them????


Thu May 05, 2005 9:05 am
Profile

Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1146
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Post 
As far as the blossom drop: (any / all the above!) ~ you might have had a late frost, or this may be a "normal" drop? Some fruit trees tend to "biennially bare," they'll over-crop one year, then rest the next! If it is just "resting" up from last years massive crop, you'll need to thin heavy "next years" set to even that out. (I think proper fruit thinning is the most neglected aspect of home orchardists - myself included) But it's amazing how many fruit are still viable after the drop you described - could mean less thinning this year! And, with your heavy crop last year, you know there's a source of pollen in the neighborhood.

I fear ~ you may have burned the "blossoms" with that last dose of Lime Sulfur... But if you've contacted Lilly Miller, hopefully they suggested you thin it down when spraying after bud-brake. If not; chalk this up as a "learning year" - I've had my share of those!

Variety wise ~ we're all over the place... Dose it have the "classic pear" shape? If so, that rules out most of the Anjou / Comice type pears, with their "smashed-round" look. If it's "ultra-pear like," with a long thin neck, that's more like a Bosc. A Bosc is pretty easy to identify (just buy one from the produce dept.), you're right about the "hint of green" before they're ripe, but it's main characteristic is the russet effect of its skin - that near potato-skin look and feel :wink: . But I've never had a problem with "scab" on my Bosc's? (they're pure scab!) And they have crisp white flesh; just bring this seasons 3 fruit to the HOS All About Fruit Show this fall and have them identified.

Your "balanced," or paced pruning is the best method, though you'll still have lots of water-sprouts forming (everywhere) this summer. You can snip (or snap) them off... but do leave some to feed your trees root systems. "Salvage pruning" really takes a tree out of balance, and it may take several years to become tweaked to your specifications. Be patient; remain diligent, and that combination should work wonders!

_________________
Home Orchard Society Coming Events: http://www.homeorchardsociety.org/events/


Thu May 05, 2005 2:07 pm
Profile

Joined: Thu May 05, 2005 8:48 am
Posts: 4
Location: WA
Post 
Viron wrote:
As far as the blossom drop: (any / all the above!) ~ you might have had a late frost, or this may be a "normal" drop? Some fruit trees tend to "biennially bare," they'll over-crop one year, then rest the next! If it is just "resting" up from last years massive crop, you'll need to thin heavy "next years" set to even that out. (I think proper fruit thinning is the most neglected aspect of home orchardists - myself included) But it's amazing how many fruit are still viable after the drop you described - could mean less thinning this year! And, with your heavy crop last year, you know there's a source of pollen in the neighborhood.


You are generally in the same area as me (PNW), so you might remember that this year, at least up here in Puget Sound, we had a VERY warm stretch of weather... perhaps close to two weeks, where we were hitting the 60's... and I think that was in late Feb. or early Mar. So I think it is possible that the temperature did have something to do this.

However, what seems more likely is the 'heavy year, light year' cycle. That seems to come up with the last few people I talked with. The odd thing about that is, the tree had the same amount of blooms this year as last... problem is, most of them are falling off as if not pollenated. It would almost make sense that the tree would/should show that it is doing the heavy year light year thing by having less blossoms... So it appears as though the blossoms were there, but they were not "effective".
Anyway, it is still confusing.


Viron wrote:
I fear ~ you may have burned the "blossoms" with that last dose of Lime Sulfur... But if you've contacted Lilly Miller, hopefully they suggested you thin it down when spraying after bud-brake. If not; chalk this up as a "learning year" - I've had my share of those!


I fear(ed) that too... but, I followed the directions on the Lili Miller product. The dormant spray concentration is 1 cup per gallon. The spring and summer spray is 4 teaspoons per gallon... a HUGE reduction in concentration.

Viron wrote:
Variety wise ~ we're all over the place... Dose it have the "classic pear" shape? If so, that rules out most of the Anjou / Comice type pears, with their "smashed-round" look. If it's "ultra-pear like," with a long thin neck, that's more like a Bosc. A Bosc is pretty easy to identify (just buy one from the produce dept.), you're right about the "hint of green" before they're ripe, but it's main characteristic is the russet effect of its skin - that near potato-skin look and feel :wink: . But I've never had a problem with "scab" on my Bosc's? (they're pure scab!) And they have crisp white flesh; just bring this seasons 3 fruit to the HOS All About Fruit Show this fall and have them identified.


I am pretty sure now that they are Bosc. They are very pear shaped. Early on they appear maybe more green than brown, but then (late in the summer) they turn more brown, and then, rapidly get a yellow tint to the brown.
Maybe you have never had any Bosc pears that had no scab?:roll: Or did you mean that their texture makes them look as if they have scab all over?

Ours had what I would consider, oh, say, 5% of their surface covered with scab. The rest was pretty healthy looking, but it varied pear to pear.

And I found two more pears today... but that was after looking real hard. I bet I don't get more than like 50-75 this year. Right now, indications are it will be much lower than that, but I could be missing seeing some as they are fairly small right now.

When you talk about fruit thinning, you are talking about after fruit sets, correct? I am assuming you are talking about thinning that happens in the late spring/summer, as opposed to actually determining what is fruit and what are leaves in the fall, and pruning them then?


Thu May 05, 2005 2:49 pm
Profile

Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1146
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Post 
No, my Bosc have never shown scab; and yes, their texture looks like "pure scab!" So it could be worse?

Yes, west of Portland, we also had the magnificent "dry" weather, but that was before my Pears bloomed... And though I know of some local frosts, I've been spared! With 5 pear trees, and 6 varieties (several grafts), dealing with only 50 to 75 fruit sounds like a relief...

There is such a thing as "chemical thinning," but that reminds me too much of "Alar." I actually avoid as much spraying as I can - generally grinding most of my apples & pears into juice. By thinning I do mean by hand - when they're around "golf-ball" size. There is the so-called "June drop," but proper thinning requires you remove more than nature does (at least in June).

I read your request for spray information, I'll be watching for a better response than I can give; like I've said before: if it needs much spraying, I'll replace it with something that doesn't! Good questions though!!

_________________
Home Orchard Society Coming Events: http://www.homeorchardsociety.org/events/


Thu May 05, 2005 11:11 pm
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Reply to topic   [ 6 posts ] 

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: