The Q&A Archives: Pear Tree

Question: I moved into a house that has a pear tree. The fruit is falling off before it is ripe. Three days ago a large top branch broke and it was not windy. Is the fruit too heavy? Should I be weeding out fruit to protect the branches? Also how can I tell what type of pear it is?

Answer: Pear trees tend to set more fruit than they can handle, and the fruits will remain small. A heavy fruit load can also break branches. It's best to thin the fruit when it first start to develop by leaving only one pear per cluster. If the branches seem weighed down by heavy fruit you can prop the branches up with a forked stick. Pear trees are tall-growing and can be pruned to keep the fruit bearing limbs on the lower part of the tree for easier harvesting. Thin the fruit now to ease the burden on the limbs. Then in winter prune the tree to remove excess branches and reduce the top growth, opening up the center of the tree. Once you've pruned and thinned the fruit, next year's harvest should produce larger, fully ripe fruit.

Pear identification can sometimes be difficult. You may want to take 2-3 ripe fruit to a local Farmer's Market and ask the growers if they recognize the type of pear you're growing.

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