Ripening in fall and keeping into winter, pears round out the season for deciduous fruit trees. Clustered white flowers ornament the trees in spring; the leathery, glossy bright green leaves are attractive all summer.
Pears grow best in regions with warm, dry summers and fairly cold winters ― Zones 2-9, 14-18, 32-39. Some varieties are adapted to other zones; check with local nurseries or your Cooperative Extension Office for information. To produce good crops, pears need 600 to 900 hours of winter chill. Most require cross-pollination.
Standard pears grow 30 to 40 feet high and about 25 feet wide, but they can be kept smaller ― to 15 feet tall and wide ― through pruning. Semidwarf pears are about half the size of standards.
Unlike other fruits, pears should be picked when they have reached full size but are still unripe (green and firm). Put them in a cool, dark place to ripen.
Training and pruning
Pears can be trained to a central leader or modified central leader.
Once the framework is established, prune lightly each year to maintain good form and thin out weak, broken, and crowding branches. Remove upright stems growing through the interior of the tree.
Pests and diseases
Use dormant oil spray to control pear psylla, mites, and other pests. In warm, humid regions east of the Rockies, pears are subject to fireblight; resistant varieties such as 'Moonglow' offer the best chance of success.