The Q&A Archives: Pear Tree Pruning

Question: I have 2 pear trees in my yard that are in bad need of pruning. Some of the branches are dragging the ground. I was wondering how much clearance I should have between the ground and the first branches of the tree.

Answer: That is really up to you. Most people choose a comfortable height to move under when harvesting. 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. In late winter when dormant, prune the tree to remove excess branches and reduce the top growth, opening up the center of the tree. The goal is to keep the center of the tree open and maintain fruiting spurs. It's best not to remove more than 1/3 of the plant in one season.

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.

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