Any of several trees and shrub species of the genus Pyrus, in the family Rosaceae, is called a pear. Over 3000 varieties of pears are grown from the different regions of the world but particularly abundant in China, Argentina, Italy, and the U.S.
Not all species of pear are valued for their edible fruit; some are cultivated as ornamental trees. In 1134 B.C., the Chinese had already started the cultivation of pears, and today China is considered the World’s Leading Pear Producer, reaching 19,499,487 tonnes yearly production.
The first pear tree planted in North America in 1620 was in the Massachusetts Bay colony. Major producers of pears in the U.S. are Washington, Oregon, and North California, with Bartlett as the most popular variety.
Pear’s Nutritional Value
In ancient Greece, pears were a natural remedy against nausea.
This bell-shaped, sweet fruit can either be eaten crisp or soft. They’re not only delicious but also offer many health benefits based on studies. A medium-sized pear (178 grams) provides the following nutrients:
Protein: 1 gram
Carbs: 27 grams
Fiber: 6 grams
Vitamin C: 12% of the Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin K: 6% of DV
Potassium: 4% of the DV
Copper: 16% of DV
This serving contains small amounts of provitamin A, folate, and niacin, crucial for cellular function and energy production. And provitamin A aids in skin repair like in healing of the wound, and for healthier skin.
Pears are also a good source of copper and potassium. Copper is essential for strengthening immunity, cholesterol metabolism, and nerve function, while potassium supports muscle contractions and heart function.
As an excellent source of polyphenol antioxidants, pears can help protect the body against oxidative damage. Eating the whole pear, unpeeled boasts up to six times more polyphenols than the flesh.
Production of Pears in the U.S.
Most pear production is in the Northwest United States. Data from statista.com reveals that there was a significant decline in the production from 2000-2019. In 2001, production reached 1 026 930 tonnes, the highest on the 9-year record, but it dropped to 729 000 tonnes in 2019.
Pear has two main types: The European or French pears (Pyrus communis) and the Asian pears. The former variety includes Bartlett, Bosc and D’Anjou, and the latter with varieties such as Hosui and Nijisseiki. Asian pears have apple-like texture, so it is called “apple-pears.”
Apples and pears are relatives, but pear is easier to grow than apples as they have less pest and disease issues. Pear trees can thrive and survive from pests, even not applying sprays to keep them healthy. Fireblight is the only possible issue for the trees but is manageable and can be easily diagnosed.
If you choose to grow pears in containers, be sure you pick the appropriate variety for container growing. You can plant them at any time of the year.
Two cultivars are essential for successful pollination and fruit set, and most pears are not self-pollinating. Pears generally take from 3 to 10 years to start flowering and bear fruit, but once they start producing, it’s prolific and long-lasting.
The basic needs for any fruit trees or plants are almost similar: a quality soil, a location well-lighted by the sun, and air circulating well. Planting pears are recommended to do in the late winter or early spring.
Fire blight-resistant types and rootstocks are best suited outside dry western regions. Plant at least two different varieties as they will cross-pollinate to yield fruits. But make sure to study which variety suits the other.
Any pear variety requires the same soil pH. Although pears can tolerate ranges from 5.0 to 7.5, it’s best to grow them on soil with 6.0 to 6.5 pH.
One tree should be 20 to 25 feet away from another tree.
Whether organic or artificial fertilizer, make sure it contains iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, molybdenum, copper, and boron as these elements are crucial to the plants’ growth.
On its early in the year, apply the fertilizer, but if the soil is highly fertile, use a lesser fertilizer amount. Applying the fertilizer should be spread under the canopy, avoiding the 5 inches closest to the trunk.
If the plant’s leaves turn pale green or yellowish during the summer, use a little more fertilizer next year. However, if the tree grows beyond 12 inches in one season, use less fertilizer next year.
Do not put in too much fertilizer. An excessive amount of nitrogen will make the plant more susceptible to fire blight and may focus much on producing foliage instead of flowers and fruit.
The pears’ first year is critical as they are not strong enough and established as a tree. Therefore, to minimize the losses from dying trees, water them twice a week in light soil and once a week in clay soil.
Soak the entire root system deeply, with at least one inch of water; typically, it will take about 40-50 minutes. During the dry spells, water the young trees properly to help them establish their roots.
Lack of water during droughts may cause the fruits to drop prematurely. Keep the surrounding of the trees free of grasses and weeds to reduce the competition for water.