Oregon’s pear production is the second highest in the nation. In 2018, 246,000 tons of pears were harvested in Oregon. The rich soil, cool nights and warm days provide an ideal growing environment for pear trees. Pears are found in the Mid-Columbia and Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley growing regions.
Pears were one of the fruit tree that arrived in Oregon on the wagon of Henderson Luelling along with apple trees and nursery plants.
Rogue Valley is the original location where pear trees were planted. After 20 years of apples being the top commodity produced from this growing region, pear trees replaced 94% of the apple orchards in 1930 and became the primary crop in the Rogue Valley. This change was made once farmers realized that pears grew better in the volcanic soil of the valley and the fruit lasted longer through the cold nights and warm days.
Anjou pears are egg shaped fruit that have identical characteristics in both color varieties. These pears all have a larger spherical shape and taper out to be smaller at the top of the fruit. Anjou pears are both red and green.
The green pear variety stays almost the same green color from when it is picked off of the tree to when it is completely ripe and ready to enjoy!
The red pear variety is often a dark red or maroon color. Red Anjou pears can show subtle streaks of color on the skin caused by the sun shining on the fruit before it is harvested.
This pear variety has the “true” pear shape with a wide bottom section and gradually gets slimmer as it gets closer to the stem. Bartlett pears have a very strong and identifiable smell. There are many color varieties of this fruit with slight flavor differences with each kind. The colors of this pear variety include yellow, red and green.
The Bartlett pear will ripen once it is no longer in a cool temperature. This fruit will go from green to yellow once it is being stored in room temperature conditions, usually in the home of the consumer.
Red Bartlett pears have the same pear characteristics as the regular Bartlett pears. The Red Bartlett pears have different flavors and textures during the different ripening stages. This pear begins as a crunchy and tart piece of fruit and becomes a juicy and sweet pear when it is fully ripe.
Bosc pears are one of the most identifiable pear varieties. This pear has a long and more slim neck than other pear varieties do. The bottom half of the pear has a circular shape like other pear varieties. Bosc pears have a unique brown color and may have a russetting look to the skin. Russetting is a natural occurring gather of color on the skin. This gathering of coloring does not have an affect on the quality of the fruit and humans are still able to eat the fruit.
Comice pears are a distinct variety because of the plump shape of the fruit. There’s not a distinct difference between the top and bottom of the fruit. Comice pears come in all sizes and are green in color with yellow and red covering on some or all of the fruit. Some of these pears are all red in color.
The Concorde pear has an extremely long neck and a very narrow bottom half of the fruit compared to other pear varieties. This pear has a vanilla-sweet taste to it and is good for eating by itself, slicing up for salads, or heating, grilling and sauteing.
A pear tree has a different life cycle than most fruit trees. The dormant season is the most crucial season for next year’s production. It is very important that pear trees get the right amount of chill hours to improve overall growth. Chill hours happen when the outside temperature drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, but does not reach freezing. The average pear tree needs between 600-900 chill hours. Pruning your pear trees during the dormant season is the most effective. The next stage of a pear tree is the flowering season, this is when flowers begin to bloom on a pear tree. This is an important time to put fertilizer on your trees. Fertilizer needs to be used before the first time the trees are irrigated (watered). The next season for a pear tree is the fruiting season. As in the name, this is when fruit will begin to grow on the trees. This is a crucial time to make sure your trees are getting enough water during the hot and dry summers. The recommended irrigation method for pear trees is daily drip irrigation or sprinklers every 2-3 weeks. The water should be down in the soil about 18-24 inches deep. Next is harvest season. Harvest occurs in the Fall, but the exact time depends on the variety of pear being grown. Some pears ripen on the tree and other varieties ripen once their off. Once all of the fruit has been picked from the tree, the trees are watered and fertilized to start preparing for next year’s harvest. Another good management practice is to remove all fallen leaves and fruit from the ground surrounding the tree in order to control pests and harmful diseases.
Harvesting pears is done by hand and is a very tedious process. Watch the video below too see the harvest of pears!
Pear scab has been an ongoing issue in Oregon pear production since 1932. This disease has caused much economic hardship on the pear industry for decades. Not only does this disease ruin fruit but preventive measures for this disease are very expensive as well. Pear scab is present in all areas of pear production in the state of Oregon. Pear scab affects leaves, fruit, and even the young twigs of the tree. This disease looks like dark brown to black spots on the fruit. The longer the disease is on the fruit, the more dry and crackled it looks. This disease develops during the winter time and is caused by the rotten fruit that is left on the orchard floor during harvest of the previous season.
Fire blight affects the entire pear tree; shoots, flowers and fruit all wilt, blacken and die. This disease stays in the limbs of pear trees during the winter time and is transported by rain drops and insects. Warm spring weather and rain and hail cause this disease to grow faster. In order to prevent this disease maintaining trees with protective blossom sprays is the most effective way to treat the fruit.
This disease shows up as dark irregular shapes and appears as ash smudges on the fruit. This appears on individual fruits as well as bunches that are close together. Sooty blotch can not be treated by fungicides.
The brown rough area on fruit due to damage.
The period of time during plant growth where the plant stops growing and producing fruit. This is also known as the plant’s time to rest.
Chill hours are when the plant is growing when the temperature outside reaches between 32-45 degrees Fahrenheit. Deciduous plants go dormant or rest during chill hours.
The removal of any extra roots, stems or leaves to ensure the plant is using all available nutrients. This also helps keep the plant intact.
A natural or synthetic product that is added to soil to ensure the plant is getting as much nutrient as possible in order to grow to its fullest potential.
Pears are delicious and healthy snack that provide different nutrients such as antioxidants and dietary fiber. Enjoy pears by themselves, on a salad, or in the form of pear jelly!