Growing Pears in
W. B. Sherman
Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
I/ University of Florida, Gainesville
V (, 3 6 (.
GROWING PEARS IN FLORIDA
Pears are satisfactory fruit for the home orchard.
Some pears are adapted and produce in abundance while
others do not thrive in the warm climate of Florida. Vari-
eties that grow quite well throughout North Florida may
not be adapted in Central Florida. In general, pears do not
thrive south of Orlando.
Success in growing pears depends on horticultural
skill and on proper choice of variety. Some pears which are
generally satisfactory for Florida include the following
fire blight resistant varieties.
Fresh and Canning
early Fresh and Canning
Local nurseries ma\ offer other satisfactory varieties.
however care should be taken in purchasing tree, to be sure
that the variety selected is adapted to Florida conditions.
If in doubt, check with your count) extension director.
Propagation, Planting and Pollination
Pear varieties are not true to type when grown from
seed. Therefore it is recommended that growers obtain
known varieties grafted on suitable rootstocks.
For a home orchard, pear trees can be planted on a
variety of soil types. llowever, they grow best in a fertile
sandy loam soil with deep internal drainage. If possible,
select a site which allows good air drainage to reduce pos-
sible damage from spring frosts.
Plant healthy one or two \ ear old trees directly from
the nursery without allowing tle rootl to dr( out. Pear
trees may be planted an\ time during the dormant season
but the period from late I)ecember through January is best
because it allows time for the root- to become established
before spring growth commence-. Tree-, planted late in the,
spring may die during the dr\ piriodl which often follow.
1Assistant Horticulturist, Cooperative Extension Service, Assistant
Horticulturist, Agricultural Experiment Stations.
Bend the Roots
The planting hole should be dug large enough so the
root system is neither crowded, bent nor broken (Figure 1).
All extra long or broken roots should be pruned before
planting. Plants should be placed upright and at the same
depth they stood in the nursery. Put in one or two shovels
full of soil and pack it firmly around the roots. Repeat this
procedure until the hole is full of soil and the plant is firmly
It is desirable to add water when the hole is about
two-thirds filled with soil in order to settle the soil around
the roots. After the water has soaked into the soil, finish
filling the hole. Leave a ridge around the edge of the hole
to form a water reservoir (Figure 2). Fertilizer should not
be placed directly in the hole at planting time.
Most pear varieties adapted to Florida may be grown
as solid blocks (only one variety per block). However, the
'Pineapple' pear requires cross-pollination and should be
interplanted with another variety which corresponds in date
AT BASE OF TREE
1st year ------
2nd year -----
3rd year ----
Training and Pruning
Pears are pruned for two purposes; to remove dis-
eased or dead wood and to train or shape the tree. Most
pears tend to grow upright, thereby causing the fruit to be
difficult to pick even with the aid of a ladder. Pruning to a
modified leader system (Figure 3) helps open the center and
encourages the tree to spread. Increased vigor from exces-
sive pruning may accentuate fire blight.
Cultivation is iece.sary only for weed control and
should be shallow as possible to avoid damage to the root
system. Maintain a weed-free area approximately two feet
from the tree trunk bN hoeing. In general, chemical weed
killers are not practical to use around the home, but
mulches may be used to control weeds and conserve mois-
Precise fertilizer requirements are largely unknown.
A balanced fertilizer aL 6-6-6, 8-8-8, or similar mixture is
recommended. \b1oult 1 pounds for each year of age of
the tree is usually sufficient until a maximum of 15 pounds
is reached. This should be applied in two applications
during dormancy (January) and at the beginning of the
rainy season (June). The fertilizer should be broadcast
under the trees. Excessive fertilization should be avoided as
it may make the tree more susceptible to fire blight.
Rainfall varies in frequency and amount giving wet
and dry periods. Hlow much water and when to apply it
depends not only on rainfall but also on the soil type.
Sandy soils require more frequent irrigation than do soils
rich in clay or organic material. Thoroughly wet all areas
under the canopy of the tree to a depth of several feet.
This ma\ require upwards of 50 gallons per tree for large
specimens or as little as 5-10 gallons for young trees.
Applications ever) 7-10 days may be needed in extremely
Harvesting and Storage
In general. pears ripen satisfactorily in storage at
room temperature. Wrapping the pears in paper before
storing will result in better ripening. The fruit should be
picked when full size is obtained and yellow color begins
to show. This premature harvest allows ripening without
full development of the stone cells which give the fruit a
gritty texture. Fruit ripening on the tree is often unsatis-
factory due to uneveness in maturity and decay problems.
Preventive control of pests is required to maintain
beautiful foliage and good fruit quality.
1. Leaf Spot
Pear leaf spot can ause serious defoliation on some
varieties unless control measures are practiced. D)am-
age from leaf spot can be prevented by spraying with
a copper fungicide at 10-14 da% intervals. Dosage
rates should h one pound of (50(% copper) fungicide
per 25 gallons of water (two tablespoons per gallon).
Applications should start at or immediately after
bloom and continue as long as leaf spot is likely to
cause defoliation before normal leaf drop in the fall.
2. Fire Blight
Fire blight spreads from tree to tree primarily during
the bloom period. Three sprays of streptomycin--one
at early bloom. one at full bloom, and one at late
bloom-will materially reduce fire blight infection.
Dosage rates should be 2 oz. per 25 gallons of water
(1 Y teaspoons per gallon) of 17% streptomycin form-
ulation. here infection is already present, or occurs
later, the infected areas should be pruned out, cutting
at least eight or ten inches below the lowest visible
infection. Pruned-off parts should be burned.
If desired, streptomycin and copper may be used in a
combined spray during the bloom period. There are
no restrictions on the use of copper fungicide on
pears, but streptomycin cannot be used within 30
days of harvest.
Also suckers, sprouts and dead wood which harbor
fire blight bacteria should be removed.
3. Scale Insects
Several scale insects may infest the leaves, twigs,
branches, or fruits of the pear. For control, apply a
3% oil spray (mix 3 1/3 gallons of 90% oil concen-
trate in 100 gallons of water or for smaller quantities
Y2 cup in 1 gallon of water). This spray should be
applied during the dormant period (around mid-Janu-
ary is best).
Important Points to Remember
1. Do not over-fertilize.
2. Prune for shape and disease control.
3. A preventive spray program is a must for good qual-
4. Pears should be picked just before ripening, wrapped
in paper, and stored at room temperature for uniform
Commercial Pear Growing Agricultural Handbook No.
330, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, 1967. Availa-
ble from Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Gov't.
Printing Office, Washington, D. C. 20402. Price: 404
A Home Orchard for North Florida Cir. f/ 332. Fla.
Cooperative Ext. Serv., 1968.
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
Cooperatve Extension Servie, IFAS. tnneristl of F'lund
and United States Department of Agriiulture Cooperatimg
Joe N. Busby. Dean