Everything about the pear and its cultivation
Pear is one of the most beloved fruits of the Greek countryside, rich in vitamins and ideal food from infancy. It is a raw material for fruit salads and compotes while giving excellent taste to natural juices. It has a high nutritional value, with many antioxidants, fiber and vitamins without having many calories.
The pear (Pyrus communis) belongs to the family Rosaceae, the same family as the apple. It is a deciduous tree with ortho-branched vegetation, which enters fruiting after the 4th year. The productive life of a pear depends on many factors, but it can exceed 40 years. The flowers of the pear are white, and blooms depending on the climate of the area from the end of March to the end of April, usually together with the first leaves, and the flowering lasts about 20 days.
It can be grown at different altitudes, while it is best to avoid the hot and humid summer environment with frequent rainfall, because it is a risk of diseases favored by the humid and hot climate for pears. The cold during the winter months does not affect the tree, but spring frosts can damage the pear tree.
Pear varieties differ depending on the ripening season. The early ones mature in the summer months, while the late ones mature in the autumn.
Famous Greek varieties are krystal and kontula, both delicious varieties that ripen in summer. There are many foreign varieties that are cultivated in Greece as well. In more detail:
Kontula, with its small light green fruit, is a variety with an excellent aroma and juicy, sweet taste and white flesh. It belongs to the varieties that ripen from the end of June until the middle of July. The fruit is susceptible to infections and is therefore relatively scarce. Ideal variety for mountainous – semi-mountainous areas. The stock can not be stored for a long time, so it should be consumed immediately after harvest.
Krystali is also a very aromatic variety of pear, it is of medium size in green color. Krystali is ready by mid-August so it is good to collect it a little earlier. Store in the refrigerator for a long time. Plant this variety from late fall to March.
PasaCrasana is a foreign variety, to be precise Japanese, with large spherical fruits in brown-green color. It withstands low and high temperatures as well as drought, while it is an aromatic variety but sour. It is planted from the beginning of November to the end of March and matures in September. Characteristic of the variety is the very long shelf life of the fruit.
The Coscia variety is very productive, with medium-sized yellow pears, with a characteristic buttery taste. It is an elongated fruit that ripens in early summer, June and early July, and like the kontula, it needs immediate consumption so as not to spoil. It is ideally planted in mountainous areas during the winter months. From the end of November to the beginning of March. Coscia is a very good pollinating variety for every pear tree.
Abate Fetel is a French variety with a large yellow-brown fruit when ripe. Very aromatic variety in elongated size that matures in September and is stored until January in the refrigerator. It is planted like all varieties from November to March.
Williams is very popular around the world as an industrial variety with great absorption in the compote industry. The size and shape looks like krystali in redder color when it is more mature. It is very well preserved, while it has a very sweet and buttery taste. It ripens at the end of August and the beginning of September.
Finally, we will mention the Santa Maria variety with a harvest period at the end of June and large juicy fruits in yellow color which reddish slightly when ripe. It is a fairly hardy variety, with fruits that are well preserved .
Of course there are still many varieties, some less popular and many that are not preferred for cultivation in Greece.
Proper growing conditions – climatic requirements
Pears, regardless of the variety, prefer hot and dry summers without being bothered by high temperatures, and cold winters (-20 to -7 oC) when they are dormant, but they do not withstand spring frosts, especially during flowering. Sunny areas are ideal with a south orientation, it wants fertile soils preferably with a neutral pH with good drainage and soft and deep soils for the roots to breathe.
Watering the pear
The pear is in great need of watering to produce pears. It needs good drainage in the soils, but also sufficient moisture. Ideally, from May to September it needs watering once a week depending on the heat, while in the months with increased demands (July and August) it definitely needs watering twice a week, as it is the period when the fruits grow and ripen. During the period of flowering and fruiting it is good not to dry the soils and of course not to stagnate water because the flowers will fall. Pear prefers drip irrigation for better and slower absorption. The irrigation of the pear depends and adapts to the variety, the soil and the climate of each area. If you notice yellowing of the leaves on the top and the periphery, then there is accumulation of water and poor drainage.
The pear is ideally planted in the winter when it is dormant. Bare pear seedlings are planted from December to February. Potted or baggy seedlings are planted all year round but the ideal planting period is from October to March.
Planting distances also depend on the configuration during pruning, with ideal distances of 4 * 5 meters to a maximum of 5 * 5 meters. From fences place the pears at least 2.5 meters away. The depth and width of planting must be sufficient so that the root system can fit comfortably and can grow. An ideal pit size is about 60 * 60 cm, but without grafting the plant into the ground. After planting, support the seedling carefully so as not to injure the trunk and well so as not to break or tilt in the wind.
Fertilizing the pear is important to ensure good fruiting. It needs nitrogen in the spring and additional phosphorus and potassium in the early summer. Spraying the leaves with mixtures of trace elements and metals help in better production but can also be bypassed. You can put well-digested manure in early spring, while preferring organic fertilizers suitable for pears is the best option.
Pollination and fertilization of the pear
Bees and air are needed to pollinate and fertilize the pear. The majority of pear varieties need cross-pollination, ie pollination by other pear varieties with the same flowering period which are important to be in the same field or at close distances. Because it is not easy for everyone to have a beehive in their field for pollination of pear and of course other plants, it is good to plant beekeeping plants to attract bees and other pollinating insects, while helping to protect such an important insect in our ecosystem.
Harvest for better maintenance
The pear is good to pick when it has completed its growth but has not fully ripened. It is a fruit that is stored for a long time outside the refrigerator and a long time in the refrigerator depending on the variety, while it is good to harvest early in the morning and not at noon. Store pears away from apples as the ethylene released by the apple causes premature ripening in pears and other vegetables and fruits.
Pruning the pear tree
The pear is a tree that needs annual pruning for good growth and fruiting. We prune when the pear is dormant, from December to February, days with a dry climate, without fear of frost and rain so that the tree does not get moisture and become infected. The incisions should be covered with a protective formulation. Strict pruning reduces fruiting significantly.
Configuration pruning gives shape to young trees, in the shape you desire. Cup-shaped or palmette are the most common forms in amateur gardens. Fruiting pruning reduces stem growth for better fruiting in adult trees. The branches that bear fruit are pruned very little while we remove dry branches and dilute where they are dense so that there is proper ventilation and sun. We take care to control the height with appropriate pruning, as we want the height to serve us in the harvest. We do not prune last year’s shoots.
In the summer during the fruiting period, we improve the quality of the fruit by removing non-fruiting shoots with vigorous growth, while in June, the removal of smaller fruits that rest on larger fruits helps to grow tastier fruits without the risk of worming.
Propagation of pear
Propagation by grafting
The grafting is done on a quince or wild pear tree. Wild pear grafting offers a tree very resistant to drought and climatic conditions. To succeed, it must be done in June or August on an bud, or on an adult tree, in April by grafting the bark.
Propagation by seed
The seed is planted in early spring. Keep in mind that from the seed of a pear, we do not get the same variety of pear, so it needs grafting.
Propagation by cuttings
For propagation by cuttings, we take woody shoots 25-30 cm long in winter and plant in pots with perlite sand and peat in equal proportions. It needs good moisture to grow roots. In the spring they are transplanted.
Diseases of pear
Pear is a sensitive tree and quite vulnerable to insect attacks. For protection against infections and treatment of fungal diseases we can spray with a solution of copper and sulfur before flowering. The most common disease from which the spray protects is the fungus that blackens the leaves and rots the fruit. Protect the pear from infections by cutting the infected branches.
Insects that attack the pear, rot the fruit, mainly infect the leaves and suck their juices.
How to protect your trees in simple ways:
First of all, we always prefer ecological, herbal and homemade preparations, such as soap solution, vinegar solution, improvised insect traps, extracts and essential oils such as thyme.
We systematically disinfect our pruners and saws, while covering cracks and pruning cuts with protectors to prevent infections.
We take care and clean the branches well, at least 20 cm extra from the point of infection. While we check for the existence of plants that are hosts of infectious diseases and we remove accordingly.