Growing Organic Pears – From Seed, Cuttings

A Planting Guide for Growing Organic Pears

Hello friends, today we are here with the topic of growing organic pears from seeds and cuttings. Pear is one of the most important fruit crops of temperate regions in India and fruit is a rich source of protein and vitamins. Pear trees can be easily grown organically because they don’t require any sprays to keep them healthy and pest-free. Fire blight disease is the only disease that challenges Pear trees, but this is easy to diagnose and manage.

Growing organic Pear trees differs from regular Pear production in three critical considerations. They are fertilizing, controlling Pear pests most significantly the codling moth, and controlling common Pear tree diseases like fire blight. Start preparing for organic orchard long before you plant Pear tree by beginning a compost pile to provide organic amendments for your soil and mulch for Pear trees.

Pear Tree Production in India

Pear is a typical fruit of temperate climates and fruits are tasty with a pleasant flavor. Pears fruits produced around the world and harvested in late summer into October months. Pear can be grown in subtropical to temperate regions due to its wider adaptability of climate and soil. In India, Pear trees are cultivated in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttar Pradesh.

Pear trees are slightly less cold-hardy than apples but are easier to grow organically in a wide range of climates. In Zones 4 to 7, choose Pear tree varieties that have good resistance to fire blight, such as ‘Honeysweet’ or ‘Moonglow.’ In Zones 5 to 8, Asian pear trees produce beautiful, crisp-fleshed fruits if given routine care. Most table-quality Pears must be harvested before they are fully ripe.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Organic Pears from Seed and Cuttings

Pear Orchard
Guide to Growing Organic Pears (Image credit: pixabay)

Climate Requirement for Growing Organic Pear Trees

Generally, Pear trees can be grown successfully at 1200 to 1800 meters above sea level. It can tolerate very low-temperature levels below 0°C and can stand high temperatures during summers (47°C). The best temperature level for its flowering and fruiting is 2°C in winter and 32°C in summers. Rainfall 100-125 cm is sufficient for Pear tree growth. Summers should be less humid and fruits make good growth if rains are there at the maturity stage.

Soil Requirement for Growing Organic Pears

Sandy loam is best, although Pear trees can grow in heavier soils particularly in warm climates. If soil is heavy clay, consider amending it with compost and moistened peat moss. If the soil is poor, consider growing Pear fruit trees on raised beds. In terms of nutrients, Pear trees need moderate fertility soil. Pears prefer slightly acid soil means pH 5.9-6.5. Though, maximum yields are reported on fertile loamy sandy soils with pH ranging from 6 to 7.

Natural organic orcharding begins with the soil. Begin a soil-building program before the Pear trees are planted. Fruit trees can be sensitive to mineral deficiencies. Some major nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and sulfur as well as minor nutrients such as boron, copper, and zinc may bring Pear tree growth and fruit quality. Also, compost teas, fish emulsion, and seaweed meal are all valuable sources of trace elements for Pear tree growth. Then, these can be applied to the soil and sprayed as a “foliar feed”. The latter approach can offer some extra benefits in increased disease-resistance and cold-hardiness.

Site Selection for Growing Organic Pears

The fruit growers have at least a fair knowledge of soil type, its depth, reaction, water table, and fertility status before choosing a definite variety of fruit trees to be grown there. The orchard site should have uniform soil with at least 3 to 4 feet of topsoil on which the fruit trees will grow. Pear trees respond to good soil with vigor and productivity. While farmers can be able to improve the soil over time, they cannot change the subsoil layers, influence the prevailing wind, or modify temperatures to any significant extent.

Propagation for Growing Organic Pears

Like most fruit trees, contemporary cultivation methods suggest that Pear trees can be propagated by grafting. If we start Pear trees from seeds of a known variety, those trees will produce fruits in 7 to 10 years, while the harvested fruits will be significantly different from the initial fruit. Professional farmers select grafted rootstocks to achieve product quality. Professional Pear growers plant a tree that is a combination of 2 different plant tissues, the rootstock, and the scion. Rootstock determines the tree’s final height and can protect the whole Pear tree from soil-borne diseases. Both the rootstock and the scion should be carefully selected and each one of them may result in poor production.

Time of Sowing for Growing Organic Pears

Generally, planting is completed in January Month and one-year-old plants are used for planting. After the Pear tree planting, irrigation should be done. For Pear planting, square or rectangular planting can be adopted. In hilly areas contour system of planting is used for Pear tree cultivation.

Spacing Requirement for Growing Organic Pears

Standard Pear trees need about 20 feet and semi-dwarf Pear trees about 15 feet between trees. Plum Pear trees should be spaced 15 feet. Before planting pear trees, clear land and remove remains of earlier plants.

Steps in Growing Organic Pears

Step 1) Select and purchase a Pear cultivar and organic practices will work for all cultivars. Plant the pear tree in a sunny location. Dig the planting hole in the spring season, place the seedling’s roots into the hole with its graft line, if any, several inches above soil level, and then refill the hole with extracted earth. Then, place the tree near another Pear for pollination or plant a second tree within 40 feet of the first.

Step 2) Plant Pear trees in the early spring season. Order bare-root plants in the mid-winter season so that they arrive in time. If you live outside of the dry western regions, you should select-fire blight-resistant types and rootstocks.

Step 3) Then, spread a layer of organic compost 3-inches over the root area. Keep the mulch about 4 to 6 inches from the pear tree trunk. In the winter season, add a layer of shredded wood to protect against colder weather conditions.

Step 4) Prune the Pear tree, starting by taking off the top about 24 inches from the ground at the planting time. Then, trim to the multiple leader system, keeping the center clear to favor the growth of 3 or 4 selected upright shoots that are evenly spaced around the tree; each of these becomes one of the tree branches. Leave several large lateral branches on each of these new leaders and remove all competing tree branches.

Step 5) Plan to plant at least 2 varieties of Pear trees and make sure the plant varieties are compatible with each other. Then, spray the Pear tree with dormant spray to control mites as well as the destructive Pear psylla. Make the plant spray yourself to be certain it is organic. Mix about 1 gallon of organic horticultural oil, 1 pound of organic oil-based soap, and one-half gallon of water in a saucepan on the stove and then bring to a boil. Dilute with water 1 part solution to 19 parts water, and then spray it on the Pear tree in January, June, August, and October. Cover the trunk and each side of every leaf and branch of the tree.

Step 6) Some of the keys to growing Pear trees organically include putting them on a spraying regime of safe products to battle disease and insects, using proper pruning methods, other organic pest controls, and good cultural practices.

Step 7) Fruit trees that drop their leaves every year (deciduous trees) are sold in containers during the growing season. It’s important to the health of fruit trees that you plant bare-root trees as soon as you can after buying them. Dig the hole about twice as large as the container and make sure to fill in the hole with a mix of native soil and the soil building compost. Cover the top with 2 to 3 inches of compost or mulch. If your soil is clay-like, you may need to add some gypsum to the hole as well. Most fruit trees are pretty low-maintenance trees once they’re established, but if you pay attention to them and provide proper care you’ll get a more abundant, flavorful harvest.

Step 8) Control fire blight disease by pruning out the infected branches in the spring. Always sterilize the pruners with denatured alcohol between clips and cut more rather than less. Find the lower edge of the visible infection in the branch, trace the branch back to where it attaches to the trunk, and then prune at the next branch and the branch to which it is attached. Burn the pruned pieces.

Planting Tips for Growing Organic Pears

  • Plant Pear trees in the spring or fall season when trees are dormant.
  • It’s best to plant bare-root Pears in the spring season.
  • Container-grown Pears can be planted at any time of the year that the soil is workable.
  • Avoid planting Pear trees when the weather is the hot and dry season.
  • Bare-root Pears are usually 1 or 2 years old; container-grown trees may be older. Select a tree at least one-year-old tree and ½ inch to 1 inch in diameter that is 4 to 5 feet tall with 1 to 3 branches.
  • Work well-rotted compost or manure into the soil and then add a cupful of all-purpose fertilizer to the bottom of the hole.
  • After planting Pear trees water each tree thoroughly and fertilize with a high-phosphorus liquid starter fertilizer.
  • Pruning is done when the Pear trees are dormant in late winter.

Care for Young Pear Plants

Prepare the basins around the newly planted Pear plants. Keep soil level a little higher around the trunks, so that irrigation water must not stagnate near the trunks. Some Pear plants after irrigation can tilt, straighten these at the same time. Apply 2 to 3 irrigations at 10 days intervals. As soon as the temperature level rises in March-April the irrigation interval may be reduced to 7 days. During the rainy season, adjust the irrigation accordingly. No irrigation is required during dormancy means December-January. White ants will certainly attack the young newly-planted Pear plants. To have a check on white ants, apply chloropyriphos by 10 ml/L of water, to the roots near the trunks. About 1 liter of this solution can be applied to each plant at months of the interval from March to June.

If you have highly fertile soil, use less fertilizer to the plant. If the leaves are pale green or yellowish during the summer season, use a little more fertilizer next year. Be very careful when applying fertilizer to the tree. If you give Pear trees too much nitrogen, they will become more susceptible to fire blight. Plant carefully and provide appropriate aftercare and protection.

Irrigation Requirement for Growing Organic Pears

Water the Pear tree with a slow sprinkler after planting and fill in if the soil settles. Newly planted Pear trees need to be watered every week for the first year. Pear tree probably has plenty of water if the soil seems moist. Don’t wait for leaves to droop before watering the tree. Remember, overwatering the tree can be just as damaging as under-watering. Roots need to be moist but not waterlogged.

As the Pear tree grows, the roots will be deeper into the soil and will generally not require as much watering. Generally, young Pear trees need more water than mature trees. During the last 30 years, drip or micro-irrigation systems were used in Pear commercial orchards. Generally, sprinklers are used at a great percentage on Pear farms and their main benefit is the protection of the tree buds from frost damage.

Mulching Requirement for Growing Organic Pears

Mulch helps improve the fertility and health of your soil and should be applied in the spring or fall as it protects Pear trees from cold winters, keeps moisture in and weeds down. As the mulch decomposes, it also provides necessary nutrients to Pear trees. Ideal mulch such as large wood chips hasn’t been treated chemically and will last for a long time. A good rule of thumb is to spread a thick layer of mulch (3 inches or so) in a three-foot diameter around each Pear tree.

Weed Management Requirement for Growing Organic Pears

Generally, there are numerous options to control weeds including flaming, mechanical tillage, the use of ground covers, mulches and weed fabrics, mowing, and hand-pulling, however, synthetic herbicides cannot be used. A few organic compliant herbicides are obtainable that are non-selective and generally of marginal effectiveness and high cost. Ground covers can improve soil quality, water infiltration, and fix nitrogen but they can compete with trees and create rodent pest habitat.

For newly planted orchards, the first 2 years are critical for tree growth, and minimizing competition with weeds is important so that trees will grow quickly to fill in their allotted space in the tree row. Weed control is most critical during the spring through the early summer season. At different orchard floor management practices that provide weed control in an organic system.

In case if you miss this: Dragon Fruit Cultivation.

Nutrition Requirement for Growing Organic Pears

Organic certification requires a system that will maintain or improve soil quality and improve plant growth. Some organic amendments like manures, composts, or cover crops are one strategy that can add organic matter and supply nutrients. Other organic materials such as feather meal or blood meal for nitrogen, or rock phosphate for phosphorus, can target a specific nutrient need. Finding nitrogen sources that release the desired amount of nitrogen during the appropriate time can be a challenge, with the material continuing to release nitrogen into harvest and beyond, potentially affecting fruit quality and tree dormancy. Also, growers can use organic compliant foliar sprays, such as fish emulsion and some liquid products are available for applying through a drip system for fertigation.

Pruning Pear Trees

For most Pear trees the best time to prune is in mid-winter to the very early spring season. If you prune too early the Pear tree responds by sending out lots of tender shoots which will be severely damaged by frosts. Then, these will then provide an ideal entry site for a variety of bacteria, fungi, and pests.

Winter, while the trees are dormant, is the best time to prune Pear fruit trees. You need to prune to remove diseased branches and to direct the proper growth of your Pear trees. A well-pruned Pear tree will produce more flowers and fruit. Pruning is a key aspect of growing Pear trees. The goal of pruning Pear trees is to provide the leaves and fruit access to light and fresh air. The ideal branching pattern changes with species and some Pear trees can be pruned and trained into fence or wall-hugging espaliers to save space. Begin pruning Pear trees to shape them in their first year, and then prune annually in late winter, before the buds swell.

Pests and Diseases Management in Growing Organic Pears

Some organic methods include orchard sanitation, monitoring pest and predator populations, and the deployment of selected pesticides and other passive control measures. The objective is to encourage the development of a healthy predator/pest balance, which will minimize the need for human intervention. Under organic regimes, pest mites, pear psylla, and tentiform leafminer decline dramatically and then cease to be a problem.

Make informed choices for both variety and rootstock. Nowadays, fruit growers have many options to choose from, and these may include a disease-resistant selection that means fire-blight-resistant Pears immune to leaf curl. If a disease is not a real problem, then ordinary plant varieties may produce higher quality fruit. Remember, it is useful that even the disease-resistant plant varieties are still susceptible to insect damage.

When and How to Harvest Pears

Some Pears should be harvested before they are ripe or they turn gravelly. The only way to find out if your plant variety falls into this category is to pick some when they are mature in size but just beginning to turn color, letting the others ripen on the tree. Ripen the pears at room temperature for the best quality Pear fruits. To store Pear fruits, pick them when they are fully grown but still very hard. You can keep them in the refrigerator; they should last for 1 week. Also, you can keep them in containers in a cool, dark place; they should keep for 1 to 2 months.

Commonly Asked Questions about Growing Pear Trees

Questions about Growing Pears
Questions about Growing Pears (Pic credit: pixabay)

How much time does it take for a Pear tree to bear fruit?

Normally, Pear trees can take about 3 to 10 years to begin flowering and bear fruit. Some Pear tree varieties are precocious, producing fruit a year or so earlier, and reaching full production a year or so earlier. Among the varieties is Anjou, Harrow Sweet, or Moonglow.

What can I plant around a Pear tree?

Normally, Pear trees can be susceptible to pests, so surround the plants with companion plants. Some of the important companion pants for Pear trees are Clover, African Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Borage, Bee Balm, Beans, or Peas. Pear trees need full sun and an inch of water every week.

What is killing my Pear tree?

Fire blight disease is the main problem in Pear trees. It is a bacterial disease that can infect trees during bloom or the growing season. Symptoms of this disease include brown or black leaves that cling to the tree. The tips of branches curl into a shepherd’s crook. In severe cases, the entire Pear tree may be killed.

Why the Pear tree leaves going black?

Black leaf marks in Pear trees are caused by Pear Leaf Blister Mites. In advanced cases of this disease, the Pear fruit can also become deformed although this is unusual.

How often should Pear trees be watered?

For best plant growth and production, Pears should receive at least 1 inch of water a week. During dry spells water is mandatory. If not properly watered during droughts fruit can drop prematurely. Then, keep at least 4 feet around the Pear tree clear of grass and weeds to reduce the competition for water.



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