Dessert pears, eating pears, large or small….pears are popular around the world and the Rogue Valley’s climate is perfect for growing pears. The Rogue Valley was once covered in pear trees and many varieties of extra fancy pears were grown for Harry and David Inc. to ship gourmet fruit baskets nationwide. So why not grow your own?
In fruit tree catalogs you’ll find European pears, Heirloom pears, Asian Pears, Keeper Pears and pears that are better for espalier. Dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties of pear trees make it easy for an urban gardener to fit a pear tree into their backyard; some are even small enough grow in a large container. Pear trees need a pollinator, another pear tree that blooms at the same time to cross-pollinate and bear fruit. Mostly likely there is a pear tree somewhere in your neighborhood to pollinate your tree, but if not and you only have space for one tree, you can create a combo pear tree by grafting a scionwood branch from another variety onto your tree, or purchase a combo pear tree from a nursery. Bare-root fruit trees will be arriving at local nurseries soon, so look for fruit trees with healthy grafts, well-balanced branches, and well-established root systems.
Below are a few heirloom varieties to consider:
Seckel (Sugar Pear) – American cultivar introduced in 1790. Easy to grow. Small chubby round pears are small with reddish brown skin, fine-textured flesh that is sweet richly flavored and juicy. Tolerant of most pear diseases.
Bosc – Originated in France or Belgium, discovered in Europe in the 1800’s, then came to America in 1833. A large pear with a russet skin and high sugar content, slightly fibrous texture and a spicy sweet flavor.
Comice – Originated in France 1848. A large pear with greenish yellow skin, buttery tender texture, aromatic and very juicy. A traditional gift fruit.
Green Anjou – (Beurré d’ Anjou) Originated in Belgium, introduced to America 1842. A large conical pear with a short neck stem, it has pale green skin, even when ripe. Excellent storage pear with smooth texture, lemony flavor, but it’s not very sweet. Good for baking, poaching, roasting, grilling, and salads.
Red Anjou– Originated as a naturally occurring bud sport on a Green Anjou. It has all the traits of the Green Anjou, except it’s red. (Wikipedia: Bud sport is part of a plant that shows morphological differences from the rest of the plant)