Pyrus Communis (European Pear) Family Rosaceae
A pear tree looks lovely when covered in their snowy, white blossoms in spring and their autumn foliage adds interest.
Pears come in a variety of shapes and blossom colours. The European pear, with its classic (pyriform) pear-shape (a rounded ball on the bottom half of the fruit, and then a narrow shoulder with a slimmer neck or stem end) grows best in cool temperate areas with a high chill factor. They are mostly deciduous withstanding temperatures between -25 °C and -40 °C in winter, except for the evergreen species, which only tolerate temperatures down to about -15 °C.
For the Sydney Basin area the pears most suitable are rounder, ‘low chill’ varieties.
Plant bare rooted pear trees in late autumn to early spring in a sunny spot with deep, loamy soil and aged organic matter that will retain moisture in summer. The tree will do best if it not allowed to dry out, especially important during hot, dry summer periods. Mulching generously around the root line will assist this. Most varieties of pears are self-fertile and become more so as they age.
Low chill varieties flower in mid to late September and need to be protected from winds. Pears can withstand heavy pruning to keep in shape and are, therefore, especially suited for espaliering.
Pear trees will fruit at around 5 years so try to purchase bare root trees that are two or three years old. Pears are generally picked when under-ripe and mature over three months from mid-summer to late autumn. They are ‘climacteric’ and their hormone, ethylene, stimulates the ripening of the fruit. This can be slowed by placing the fruit in the fridge or sped up by placing the fruit in a bowl with ripening bananas.
Store pears at room temperature as they ripen and the flesh around the stem begins to give way under gentle pressure. Low chill Pears do not store well, when ripe, so are best stored refrigerated, uncovered in a single layer and eaten within 2 to 3 days. For bottling, drying or cooking choose firm, under- ripe pears.
Varieties suitable for the Sydney Basin
Hood – large, round oval fruit with smooth yellow-green skin. Mild, sweet, pear flavour with few grit cells, ripens from the core.
Flordahome – attractive, rounded pear-shape with a light green ski. A good pear flavour and smooth, very juicy flesh with few grit cells around a small core.
FLA 39 – 40 – green skin with slight blush. Medium tender, white flesh, small core, good texture, few grit cells, good flavour.
FLA 57 – 75 – smooth skin with light red blush. Good texture and flavour sweet, medium core, few grit cells.
FLA 58 – 45 – red blush on russet coloured skin. High aroma and flavour, slightly coarse, medium grit, tart, medium sweet, small core.
Areas with some frost
Corella – greeny yellow base skin turning a nice red colour. Tender, soft, white flesh, juicy with some flavour.
Florelle – green with a red speckled blush. Texture is a bit coarse but the flavour is delicate and sweet.
References: NSW Department of Agriculture