OUT IN THE YARD — Pear trees easy to grow in Texas

Published 12:10 am Thursday, July 18, 2019

One of my childhood memories is watching my grandmother can pears.

At that age, I didn’t understand that there are two different types of pears. Oriental pears are picked hard, ripened off the tree and used in baking and canning while European pears are softer like the ones bought in the store.

Even though most people want to grow European pears, they do not grow well in Texas. Most of the pear trees in Texas are an Oriental variety because they have a strong resistance to fire blight.

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Pear trees are one of the easiest fruit trees to grow in Texas. If you choose the right variety, there is not much maintenance needed to grow pears.

The best-tasting Oriental varieties for our area include Warren, Ayres and Magness. Warren is the best tasting of these varieties with a smooth, buttery taste. Some Asian varieties of pears are being planted in Texas, but there is not enough information to recommend them yet.

When planting a pear tree, it is good to note that most pears need a pollinator, so it is best to plant two trees. When planting any fruit tree, it is best to plant in the fall. When planting, dig a hole big enough for the roots to spread naturally, but not bigger than the root ball. Fill in with dirt and water, making sure there are no air pockets and the top of the root ball is at or above ground level.

Gently adjust the tree if necessary. Weed competition can kill a young pear tree or stunt its growth, so make sure there are no weeds from the trunk out to the width of the canopy.

It may take a few years for a pear tree to begin bearing fruit, but once it does, it normally ripens in August or September. Fruit on Oriental pear trees is best picked while still firm and allowed to ripen off the tree.

You can tell the fruit is ready to pick because it will turn from green to a slightly greenish yellow color. If the fruit is allowed to become too ripe, the pears will be grainy. There are many ways to cook pears, but my favorite is a chocolate pear jam. There are several recipes on the internet.

For more information on growing pear trees, visit https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/extension/fruit/Pear/pear.html

You can reach Jefferson County Master Gardener, Melissa Starr, at melynstarr@hotmail.com, or call the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension at 409-835-8461 to reach extension agent, David Oates.