It’s the time of year to prune apple trees. We used to have an old orchard, and I loved renovating the apple trees there; it was amazing to see them springing back into life with renewed vigour. They must have been around 80 – 90 years old, so towards the end of their time, although pruning will extend their lives. This is one of the reason why orchards are such good habitats. Apple trees don’t last long, so there is always lots of dead and rotting wood around, with their attendant flora and fauna.
There are several reasons to prune, which you should bear in mind. Firstly, remove badly placed and rubbing branches, which can be an entry point for infection. Then think about increasing the light and air flow through the tree, to reduce the risk of infection and help apples ripen properly. I also cut out diseased wood rather than spraying a tree with fungicide, to help biodiversity. You also want to manage the tree’s shape so it doesn’t blow over or risk losing major limbs in windy weather.
I was always told not to be frightened of taking too much off an old tree – up to 25% as a guide is fine – and to concentrate on taking bigger branches off to reduce the number of wounds. An old apple grower in Kent used to say a well pruned tree was one you could throw your hat through!
The chances are good that when you renovate an old orchard you’ll find heritage apple varieties. Many have only gone out of fashion because they don’t keep, bruise in transit or look asymmetrical. Think about grafting from the cuttings, to perpetuate part of our rural heritage.
If you would like to know more about pruning have a look at this helpful video introduction from the People’s Trust for Endangered Species – big orchard fans because of their importance as a habitat for so many rare flora and fauna.
- 4 steps to pruning an apple tree
- Love this story? Subscribe now!
- Locate Dr Underhill below Central Research
- Collect five Mold samples for Dr Underhill
- Investigate the Pit
- Old growth
- Pear Tree Care
- How to Identify Pear Trees
- asian pear tree care
4 steps to pruning an apple tree
Granny Smith apples
Haven’t pruned your fruit tree in years? Here’s where to begin.
Words: Ben Gaia
Below is my unkempt Sturmer Pippin tree one dry day in late August 2014, still dormant before flowering. You can see lots of messy, crossed branches, some dead ones, and too many very tall shoots heading skyward. It probably hasn’t been pruned for more than five years. Ok, possibly 10.
I waited for a sunny day in August, just before the tree blossomed.
Before: the unpruned tree.
Hardwoods are tough on steel blades so for this job, I used:
• a jacksaw
• sharp secateurs
Oil and sharpen your tools before you prune each tree.
1. START BY REMOVING WHAT YOU DON’T WANT
Always remove branches that are too big or in the way, crossing other branches, and all rotten wood. Here, I cut three main stems short: one was too tall and mostly nonfruiting buds, one was too near the chook house and blocked the way to the feeder, and one was a dead branch coming from the base of the tree.
One of my aims in pruning this tree was to reduce its height, from 3m to 2m overall, so it would be easier to harvest and more light could reach the fruit trees behind it.
Step 2: fruit buds.
2. PRUNE FOR GOOD LOOKS
You want to trim all the limbs down to the best-looking fruit blossom spurs.
These fruit buds (above) are thinking of bursting into flower any warm spring day now. They are fat and feathery, on wrinkled, gnarly two-year-old (or older) wood. Blossom buds only form on wood more than two years old – younger wood is smooth in comparison.
A good place to prune small branches is at the ‘collar’ where the younger wood emerges from the older wood. You’ll see a change in colour, the older wood having developed a harder bark, the younger wood still looking brown and tender.
These slender buds on smooth, younger wood are leaves or branches waiting to grow. These are the growing points of the tree and they can be selected and left to allow new branches to grow. However, I removed all of these to concentrate growth into the fruit buds.
Young wood, less than 1-year old showing leaf buds.
3. PRUNE OFF THE NON-FRUIT WOOD
I chose to prune off non-fruit branches which take energy away from the ones that will produce fruit. These branches are generally smooth-barked, straight or vertical, and they’re extra-vigorous, growing up to 2m in a season, and show fine leaf buds, not the rounder fruit buds.
I also trim the twiggy inner branches, although these sometimes carry blossom and fruit spurs which can be left on.
4. CLEAN UP
Pick up all the prunings and remove them for a bonfire, or as firewood for next winter – larger apple branches make great firewood – or to use as chair legs.
This tree has a fair amount of lichen and moss, a great sign of clean air. I like to leave most of the lichens on if they aren’t impeding blossoms. Lichen is not a parasite and it doesn’t sap the tree or harm it in any way, and I think it looks great.
Here’s the tree just a few months later, blossoming in October and starting to grow fruit in December.
WHY HARD PRUNING WORKS FOR APPLES
I can hear some of you crying in dismay “Oh, but that’s so drastic, and now your tree is only tiny!”
But here’s what you need to remember: apples are from the rose family and you probably know, the harder you prune roses, the better they flower. I’m not saying you should chainsaw every branch to a stump, although that will invigorate a scungy old tree and get it blossoming from new branches after two years.
Pruning apple trees is about concentrating the amount of food and energy available in the tree into growing blossom and fruit, rather than producing too many branches and leaves. An overgrown, unpruned tree can often end up as all wood and shady foliage, with a few apples way up the tree, only harvestable by helicopter or microlight.
About the author
Ben Gaia grows trees in the extreme climate of the West Coast of the South Island and runs a mail order nursery for organic fruit and forestry trees, www.dialatree.co.nz
How to espalier fruit trees
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Discuss This Article
Ward Upham: Extension Blog Contributor
Extension Associate – Home Horticulture Rapid Response Coordinator
& Extension Master Gardener Coordinator
Kansas State University Extension
Apple trees that are not pruned for several years will often produce so many branches that very little energy is left for fruit production. Overgrown apple trees are also difficult to harvest and spray. Gardeners who have such a tree are often at a loss as to how to get it back in shape.
Often the best (tongue-in-cheek) recommendation s for such a tree is to make one pruning cut at ground level and start over with a new tree. However, trees may have sentimental value that will make revitalization worth the time and effort. Realize that this will be a multi-year process because no more than 30 percent of the tree should be removed in one year. Here are some steps to follow:
- Remove all dead wood. This does not count toward the 30 percent.
- Remove suckers from the base of the tree.
- Choose approximately six of the best branches to keep as scaffold branches. Remove all others. Branches should be cut flush to the branch collar. The collar is that natural swelling that occurs where a branch connects to the trunk or to a larger branch. Removing the collar would leave a larger wound that would take additional time to heal. Do not paint wounds. Research has shown that wounds heal more quickly if left open. Candidates for removal include branches with narrow crotch angles, which are more likely to break in wind and ice storms, and those that cross branches you will save. This may be all that is possible the first year if the 30 percent threshold has been reached.
- Thin the branches on each scaffold branch. Remove crowded branches to open up the tree to light and allow humidity to escape. Shorten each scaffold branch by cutting back to a side branch. When you are through, the tree should have enough wood removed so that a softball can be thrown through the tree.
Severe pruning often will cause an apple to tree to produce vigorous side shoots from the trunk, called water sprouts. Main branches will also produce suckers that grow straight up. The suckers and water sprouts should be removed throughout the growing season so the center of the tree stays open.
In the case where a tree cannot be saved but you would like to preserve the apple tree variety, consider grafting. Scions taken from the old tree can be grafted onto a new rootstock to form a new tree. If you are not able to do so yourself, contact a local fruit tree nursery to find someone who may be able to help.
Once upon a time, there was a huge apple tree which gave tasty apples to the people around it. There was also a little boy who became a close friend to the apple tree.
The boy used to play with apple tree, climb its branches, sleep under its shadow, and pluck its apples. Every day he visited the apple tree, and ate some apples. One day, the boy joined in school and didn’t have a time to spend with apple tree.
After several days, the boy came to the tree. The apple tree was so happy to see the boy. It asked the boy to play. Unfortunately, the boy said that he was not a child anymore. He didn’t want to play with the tree. But he asked another request to the apple tree. The boy said he needed toys, but his parents didn’t have money to buy it for him. The tree said, “Dear my boy, i don’t have any money to buy it for you, but you can pick my apples, then sell them, get money and buy the toys you want.”
The boy went happily to his home after plucking apples. The tree was waiting to see the boy return. But he never came back for many years. The apple tree was sad and it didn’t produce any apples anymore.
Pruning Techniques: Pollarding vs. Topping a Tree
Tree pruning is a very interesting subject. Many people view pruning as an art, however, there are specific methods and techniques that must be performed correctly to ensure a trees future success.
To determine the method, one should use for a specific tree, one needs background information about its genus or family. This includes how it grows, how it is affected by the seasons, and how it responds to pruning. In addition, every leafed branch that is removed from a tree during pruning translates to less energy production for the tree as a whole. Because of this, it is important to have a reason for every branch you remove and to make each cut in the right place to give the tree the best chance to heal the wound. In this blog we are going to talk about two of the more drastic pruning methods, pollarding and tree topping, that are commonly misused and could end up being detrimental for your trees.
What is Topping a Tree?
By Famartin, from Wikipedia Commons
Topping a tree is reducing the height of the crown to a limit. Think of a heading cut applied to the tree as a whole.
What is a heading cut you ask? A heading cut is when you prune the terminal portion of a branch to a bud or a lateral branch that isn’t large enough to assume dominance of growth. This shocks the branch either causing various dormant lateral buds to start growing (watersprouts) or killing the branch entirely. Similarly, topping a tree will shock it and can lead to either erratic growth or sudden death.
Topping as a pruning method should only be employed under specific circumstances such as repairing a tree from severe storm damage.
Why is Topping a Tree Not a Good Idea?
Many things can go wrong when topping a tree.
First, removing the top of a trees crown interferes with its ability to produce energy. It also unbalances the root to crown ratio, disturbing the equilibrium of carbohydrate production and storage. A lack of photosynthetic potential coupled with the rapid depletion of stored energy usually leads to a trees death.
Second, removing large portions of the crown of a tree typically involves making large enough cuts that the tree may not be able to compartmentalize the wound making it prone to decay, fungus and insect infestations. As we all know decay is the beginning of the end for a tree.
Third, if a tree manages to survive a topping cut, the removal of a trees apical meristem causes the growth of watersprouts. Watersprouts are dormant buds that get activated and grow quickly and erratically. They typically grow vertically, defeating the purpose of the original topping cut and are usually poorly attached which makes them a risk for failure.
What Can You Do if Your Tree Has Been Topped?
If you have noticed your tree has been topped and a lot of watersprouts have been forming at the sites of the damage, don’t worry, not all hope is lost. When this happens there are some steps you can take to restructure and balance the tree’s crown. The process is referred to as crown restoration. Crown restoration involves strategically removing watersprouts and any dead branches while cultivating well placed strongly attached watersprouts into new branches. This process takes time and several prunings over a number of years but will eventually rejuvenate and reform your trees crown.
What is Pollarding?
The first and most important thing to note is that this technique is not suitable for all tree species. Pollarding is a pruning technique that is usually done to large growing, deciduous trees that sprout readily after pruning. This specialized method of pruning must be started while a tree is of a young age. The first step of pollarding is to apply heavy intermodal heading cuts on the subject. The natural response of the tree is to produce many watersprouts at the site of the cut. Subsequently, one must remove the sprouts annually or every other year. These areas will begin to develop knobs or knuckles where the sprouts continue to originate and year after year you must continue removing the sprouts. The placement of the cut is very important for this technique to be successful. It is important to always cut at the branch collar taking care to not leave a stub but also not cut into the knuckle. Another important factor that is crucial for the trees survival is the timing of the pruning. It is VERY important that sprouts are removed during the dormant season. Generally, the dormant season is when the tree loses all of its foliage during the fall/winter months. This is important because the tree requires its leaves to produce energy so it can resprout after pollarding. If sprouts are removed to early the tree may die due to lack of energy and inability to re-sprout.
Where Did This Technique Originate and How is it Used Today?
Pollarding is a technique that originated in Europe centuries ago. Traditionally this method was used to produce a large amount of small diameter branches, which could be used for fuel or crafts, from a consistent source. By cutting branches back year after year and harvesting the long slender watersprouts, farmers had a good source of food for livestock, fuel for the fire, and building material for baskets, fences and structures. Today we primarily see pollarded trees in Urban Landscapes. In this situation the technique is applied for the purpose of maintaining street trees in confined spaces. Rather than allowing a tree to grow to full size, which could cause interference with electrical utilities and structures, pollarding can keep a tree healthy at a much smaller and manageable size.
What is the Difference Between Pollarding and Topping a Tree?
The most important distinguishing factor between a pollarded and a topped tree is the large knuckles that form with pollarding. These knuckles act as the source of each year’s new growth and ensure the vitality of the tree for years to come. The knuckles can be imagined as large scars. Every time the small diameter watersprouts are removed, the tree is able to heal compartmentalizing the wounds and re-sprout from dormant buds in the surrounding tissue the next year. On the other hand, topping does not lead to knuckle formation. Rather it leads to a large un-healable wound that usually leads to the death of the tree.
Remember, no matter what type of tree you have, or how you desire it to look, always consult an arborist for the best possible outcome for you and your tree. Do you have a topped tree that you would like to rejuvenate or are you interested in pollarding your Sycamore? At Arborist Now we have skilled arborists that know how to balance your needs with those of your tree. Ask for a consultation with us today so we can further talk about the health of your trees.
Speak with Emily in the Board Room to get this side mission.
Locate Dr Underhill below Central Research
(Image credit: 505 Games)
Fast travel to Central Research and look for the elevator shaft on the ground floor, at the end of an overgrown corridor with a yellow light at the end. Use Levitate at the bottom to ensure you don’t fall to your death, then proceed through the doors to find Dr Underhill in her lab.
Collect five Mold samples for Dr Underhill
There’s five types of Mold you need to collect for Dr Underhill, and we’ll go through the locations in order. Leave her office via the other door, then go up the stairs and through the next door to enter the location of all the Mold samples.
Type A: Corpses
(Image credit: 505 Games)
Cross to the other side of the area and go up the stairs, into where the Control Point is. At the very back of the room is another smaller, lighter room with this Mold sample in.
Type B: Toilets
(Image credit: 505 Games)
In the top right corner from where you enter this area is a large entrance, with a sign for the restrooms next to it. Go to the end, then when it opens up, look to the left for a ledge to climb. You’ll find this Mold up there.
Type C: Televisions
(Image credit: 505 Games)
Keep following the path past the toilets and you’ll eventually reach a small room with some televisions in, and this sample of Mold.
Type D: Staircases
(Image credit: 505 Games)
You know the stairs you went up to find the Control Point and Type A? Type D is underneath them.
Type E: The Pit
(Image credit: 505 Games)
In the middle of the main room is where you’ll find the final sample, by a desk at the bottom.
Investigate the Pit
(Image credit: 505 Games)
Head into the enormous pit with the purple glow and use Levitate to stop yourself from falling to your death again. Get ready for another boss fight, because this time you’re up against Mold-1. It’s a huge, three-eyed tentacle monster made of Mold, and this fight is the most traditional boss encounter you’ll face all game. Mold-1 will lunge at you with any of it’s three eyes, along with sending out homing missiles made of Mold to take you out if you’re behind cover.
With that said, this fight isn’t too difficult. If the homing missiles are after you, keep using Evade to dash in one direction and escape them, and make sure you’re using the Pierce weapon mod so you can deal immense damage as soon as it stops covering the eyes. Launch can be a great secondary attack if your weapon is reloading too.
Control walkthrough: Welcome to the Oldest House
Control walkthrough: Unknown Caller
Control walkthrough: Directorial Override
Control walkthrough: Old Boys’ Club
Control walkthrough: Threshold
Control walkthrough: My Brother’s Keeper
Control walkthrough: The Face of the Enemy
Control walkthrough: Finnish Tango
Control walkthrough: Polaris
Control walkthrough: Take Control
Control walkthrough: Old Friends
Control walkthrough: Fridge Duty
Control walkthrough: Self-Reflection
Control walkthrough: Mr Tommasi
Control walkthrough: A Matter of Time
Control walkthrough: Langston’s Runaways
Control walkthrough: The Enemy Within
Control walkthrough: Mold Removal
Control walkthrough: What a Mess (all missions)
View guide index
Activation: Complete the main mission “Threshold”
Go talk to Emily to activate this new mission (picture1). After the dialogue with the latter, go to central research and join the ground floor (picture2).
Picture 1Picture 2
There, seek a corridor invaded by a strange vegetation and enter, from there, jump in the pit and us the edges and other platforms to progrss safely (picture3-4-5).
Picture 3 Picture 4 Picture 5
Once at the bottom, walk down the hallway and through the back door, then unlock the lab and talk to Dr. Underhill (picture6-7-8).
Picture 6 Picture 7 Picture 8
At the end of the dialogue with the latter, unlock the second door then climb the stairs a little further, then enter the Threshold (picture9). Here, turn immediately to the left and approach carefully to eliminate the two nearby enemies (picture10).
Picture 9 Picture 10
As a result, equip yourself with a long range weapon and get rid of all the creatures in the area, including those at the other end of the cave (picture11-12).
Picture 11 Picture 12
Once done, go to the lower level and look to the left, then approach the desk to find the Type E sample requested by Underhill (picture13-14).
Picture 13 Picture 14
Now turn around and go back, from there, go to the bottom of the area and turn right towards the toilet (picture15-16).
Picture 15 Picture 16
A little further, climb to the recess on the left, to find the Type B sample (picture17-18).
Picture 17 Picture 18
Go down again and take the corridor on the left, continue forward until you find the access to laboratory N°5 (picture19-20). Inside this one, turn left and approach the TV to find the Type C sample (picture21).
Picture 19 Picture 20 Picture 21
Now turn around and climb the cornice in front of you, climb another step and then go upstairs (picture22). From there, jump on the platforms to reach laboratory N ° 8, on the right (picture23-24).
Picture 22 Picture 23 Picture 24
Continue your progression to the next level until you reach the stairs, there, look under the steps near the projector to find the Type D sample (picture25-26).
Picture 25 Picture 26
After that, climb the steps and go to the control point (picture27). After activating it, go to the dead end at the bottom left of the area to find the Type A sample (picture28-29).
Picture 27 Picture 28 Picture 29
Once this is done, you can return to Dr. Underhill and give her the mold samples (picture30). From there, you will have to progress in the mission “My brother’s keeper” to unlock the levitation power. Once you have this power, return to Dr. Underhill to obtain the mold immunity and new targets (picture31).
Picture 30 Picture 31
At the end of the dialogue, get out of the lab and go back to the main section of the pit, down there, drop into the well with a violet glow and levitate to ground level (picture32-33).
Picture 32 Picture 33
At the bottom, eliminate the two enemies in front of you and move forward in the corridor, then turn left at the first intersection and neutralize another monster (picture34-35).
Picture 34 Picture 35
From this position, turn right then immediately left, kill a new enemy and continue in that direction (picture36). A little further, get rid of the two monsters below and go down into the well located at the bottom left to reach the Boss of this mission (picture37-38).
Picture 36 Picture 37 Picture 38
Fight against Mold-1
To defeat this particularly dangerous boss, you’ll have to use many damage mods on your favorite weapon as well as bonus health mods for Jesse. Regarding the fight itself, start by hiding behind the rock on the left and send objects to the heart of the central tentacle at the slightest opportunity. When Mold-1 sends one of its appendages in your direction, avoid it and then shoot on the weak spot above the “head”. Finally, when the boss spreads poison on the ground level, levitate while sending heavy objects in its face to finally put an end to the fight.
After your victory, enter the room at the back of the arena and use the control point to go back to the top level of the Pit, then join Dr. Underhill to complete the mission and collect your reward (picture39-40 -41).
Picture 39 Picture 40 Picture 41
Biota-soil interaction in natural ecosystems is an area of considerable research. Our hypothesis is that individual trees play a significant role through biomechanical and biochemical disturbances in soil formation in temperate forest resulting in complex spatial pattern of disturbance regimes and a close relationship between disturbance histories and soil units.
In Žofínský Prales (Czech Republic) – the fourth oldest, continuously protected reserve in Europe and the only SIGEO site in continental Europe – in time and space we compared extensive dendrochronological, soil and pit-mound microtopography data on an area of 42.01 ha collected in 2008-2012. The datasets differ in terms of information complexity and length of memory. Tree cores contain complex information about disturbance history of the past 350 years, footprints of the specific tree uprooting disturbance can persist 1700 years, and soils representing extensive composite phenotype have been developing for at least the entire postglacial period (10 500 years).
On average, 6.18-13.41% of the canopy was disturbed on individual soil units per decade. Even though the “backbone” of key events in the development of the forest ecosystem remained the same (e.g. the 1870s, 1880s and 1980s), the internal structure of disturbance history often differed among soil units; the most exceptional were Gleysols and Histosols, where important feedback from soil to trees was expected. However characteristics of treethrow dynamics as well as frequencies of stronger releases in core series significantly differed also along a gradient of terrestrial soil weathering and leaching (Haplic Cambisols – Dystric Cambisols – Entic Podzols – Albic Podzols). Results suggest the existence of several disturbance regimes within the forest controlling fine-scale pedodiversity.
Pear Tree Care
Pears are sweet tasting, and perhaps the easiest fruit tree to grow. Pears have far fewer problems with insect and plant diseases then most fruit trees. They just grow and produce year after year, with very little fuss or attention. Like apples, they are long keepers, if picked when still green, they will last for months.
Pears fall into two basic types: European and Asian. They can pollinate across these two types, but the fruit itself is quite different. European pears are generally “pear” shaped, while Asian pears are usually round, like an apple. Sometimes Asian pears are referred to as “apple pears” but their taste is very different from an apple. Asian pears are extremely juicy and almost effervescent to the taste.
View Pears in our Plant Library
Sun: Select a location in your yard that receives full sun.
Soil: The soil should preferably be fertile and well drained, but pears adapt to most well drained soils.
1.Preparing the Hole
Dig the hole as deep as the root ball, and as much as three times as wide as the diameter of the root ball. Breaking up the soil around the tree provides the newly emerging roots room to grow into loose soil to hasten establishment.
2.Placing Your Tree
Place the tree carefully in the center of the hole after removing it from the container. The tree’s root collar (the bulge right above the root system) should be just above the top of the soil. Don’t dig the hole too deep. It is better if the root collar is slightly (1 to 2″) higher than ground level because of possible setting.
3.Filling the Hole
Carefully fill the hole with soil when the tree is positioned and straight. Fill the hole about 1/3 full and lightly push the soil around the base of the root ball. Fill the remainder of the hole taking care to gently but firmly pack soil to eliminate air pockets that may cause the roots to dry out. Don’t plant the tree too deep. Back fill the soil to the height just below the root collar.
Place 2 to 4 inches of mulch in a 2 to 3 foot circle around the tree. Keep the mulch from touching the trunk to keep fungus from growing on the trunk. Mulch can be aged wood chips or bark. Mulch helps keep roots moist and insulates them, and prevents weed growth. It is not recommended to apply fertilizer at the time of planting.
Water the tree well as soon as you plant it. Water the tree at least once a week for the first year after planting. A slow, root-saturating, one-hour trickle once a week is recommended for a new tree. The watering schedule should be adjusted accordingly if it rains or is very dry.
Most pears require pollination by another pear to produce fruit. Kieffer is the one pear which is truly self-pollinating. Almost all other combinations of two pears will do the trick. The only exception to this rule is that Bartlett and Seckel cannot pollinate each other, but they can pollinate almost all other pears. So if you plant both of those, you will still need another pear to pollinate each of them.
To have successful pollination, the pear blossoms must be open at about the same time. While the pollen is compatible between Asian and European pears, the bloom time is often not overlapping. Generally speaking, Asian pears are early bloomers and European pears are mid-season bloomers. So to be on the safe side, we recommend that Asian pears be used to pollinate each other. And we recommend that European pears be used to pollinate each other.
European and Asian
European pears themselves fall into two additional categories – Fall Pears and Winter Pears, referring to the approximate time of ripening. Most European pears will not ripen on the tree. In fact, leaving them on the tree too long can often lead to the fruit rotting before you can enjoy it.
Asian pears are crunchy, crispy, apple-shaped fruits. The flavors range from the tangy tartness of citrus overtones to hints of cinnamon and ginger.
Fall pears will ripen on the tree and can be picked as soon as they are a little loose at the stem. But pick them a little unripe – just when they start turning yellow. If you wait until they are beginning to soften, they will not keep well. Keep some at room temperature to soften and eat. Store a few in your refrigerator’s crisper and slow them down a bit over a few weeks. But fall pears aren’t really good keepers. For longer storage, choose winter pears.
Winter pears should not be allowed to ripen on the tree. This is very important, as they will get very soft and squishy. They will rot from the inside out and your year’s effort will be wasted. So pick them green and hard.
When the fruit begins to fall from the tree — that is your cue to begin picking. Choose the pears that come off of the tree fairly easily. It is as simple as that. If you have to yank hard to get the fruit off, then it probably isn’t ready to be picked. Store winter pears in the crisper of your refrigerator for at least 3 or 4 weeks to allow them to “cure.” Then take them out, as you need them, and let them soften at room temperature- this will take another week or so. If any start to rot in the crisper, toss them so that you don’t spoil the rest. With this procedure, your pears be delicious and will last for months. You’ll be enjoying fresh pears at Christmas.
Asian pears ripen on the tree and do not need to be picked green. Again, like fall pears, it is best to pick them a little unripe so that they keep better. Wait until the skin begins to turn a little bit yellow. Even the brownish varieties will show some golden colored hues as they become ripe. As with any fruit, a taste test confirms their ripeness.
Pears are arguably the most attractive of all fruit trees. They will naturally form a well balanced shape. And when they bloom, fruiting pears have a beautiful, white show of flowers in the early spring.
First year pruning sets the eventual shape of the tree. If your tree is taller than 4-5′ above ground, after it’s planted, trim it down to that height. Pick out the dominant branch that is the most vertical at the top of the tree. This will be your central leader. Thin out the inward growing branches and any branches which are crossing over each other. Trim off the tips of the larger branches to encourage growth. See the illustration below for a before and after look at the branches.
Any shoots or branches which come from BELOW the “bud union” should always be pruned now and in the future. Brand new stems that grow out of the ground, from the root systems are called suckers. If you see them, simply cut them off at ground level. When the tree matures, suckering usually diminishes.
If your trees set fruit this first year, pick off some of the immature fruits, spacing them about 8″ apart on the branches. This will encourage proper ripening, allow the spray to cover well, and improve vegetative vigor. Fruit thinning in the future is also important for the very same reasons. Less is more. If you don’t thin, you will get many more fruits than the tree can handle, resulting in broken branches and small fruits. So don’t be afraid to thin. The resulting fruits will be fuller and much nicer.
In later years, you should continue “shape” your tree. Pear trees are best trained to a central leader (uppermost upright limb). This is the natural way your pear tree will want to grow. Pruning will keep your tree vigorous, encourage the establishment of fruit buds and enable you to keep your tree down to a manageable size.
It is generally best to prune pear trees when they are dormant. So pick a nice pleasant, sunny winter day and enjoy this part of orcharding. Summer pruning is helpful to retard growth of the tree. So if the tree is growing very aggressively and getting taller than you like, take it back in July to control this growth.
How to Identify Pear Trees
There are over 800 species of pear trees, and many of them are quite similar. All pear trees have medium sized, oval-shaped green leaves that turn colors and drop in the fall. All pear trees have white blooms in clusters of five. Some are ornamental, while others do produce edible pears. Identifying a particular variety of pear tree comes down to thinking about where you live and carefully examining the fruit of the tree.
Consider where you live. If you live in an urban area and your pear tree is located along a street, there is a good chance you have a Bradford pear tree. Bradford pears are very popular in urban areas for their tolerance of pollution. The tree could also be a Chanticleer pear, which in recent years have begun to replace Bradford pears.
Smell your tree when it blooms. Some ornamental pear trees have a rotten smell to their beautiful flowers. If the flowers smell “fishy,” you can narrow your pear tree down to one of several ornamental pears.
Look at the size and shape of your tree. Callery pear trees can grow up to 40 feet tall, but other pear trees usually mature at around 20 feet tall. Common pear trees have branches that are more spread out than that of the Bradford or Chanticleer pear, which tend to grow in a narrower, oval shape.
Examine the fruit. Ornamental pear trees, such as the Bradford, produce fruit that is small (about a half-inch in diameter), dark and hard. Birds love them, but they are not the type of “pear” that a person would want to eat. Each variety of fruiting pear trees produces a distinctive type of pear. The Bartlett pear, for example, is large, soft and bright yellow when ripe. The sugar pear is smaller, with thick red or green skin. Examining the pear is the best way to determine what type of pear tree it is. For photos of many different types of pears, visit the link in the Resource section.
asian pear tree care
Asian pear trees are typically best trained and maintained using the central leader method. The idea is to create a tree that has a central leader (a single dominant trunk from the roots to the uppermost top) with very well spaced radiating main branches. These main branches are called scaffold branches. The over all shape of the tree should be openly pyramidal (Figure 1).
Start training the first year by selecting a strong central branch as the main leader. Prune off any other branches that have an angle of less than about 65º to the central leader. This will likely result in removing most, if not all, of the extraneous branches. Don‘t worry, more branches will grow during the next warm season. The next step is to begin selecting the scaffold branches. First determine what height you want the lowest branch on the tree to be at. If you select a branch 2’ above the ground to remain as a scaffold branch, it will always be 2’ off the ground. Tree trunks don’t grow longer. They grow from the branch tips up and out. If your tree is short now and you wish to have bottom branches that are taller than the branches available are now, you will need to wait until the tree grows and a branch develops at the height you wish.
Start from the bottom and select only 3 to 5 very well spaced radiating branches to keep as the bottom most scaffold branches. Avoid selecting branches that are directly across from each other, vertically, on the central leader (Figure 3).
Next, select another 3 to 5 well spaced branches about 2 feet above the top most scaffold branch previously selected. The idea is to have space of about 2 feet vertically between branches all the way from the base of the tree to the top branches. Prune off everything except your chosen central leader and your chosen scaffold branches.
If your tree is not yet big enough to be able to select branches, you will have to wait until following years. New buds will develop annually along the central leader. Initial fruit tree training usually takes 4 or 5 years. If some of the branches chosen to be scaffold branches are very long, you can cut off the end of the branches to encourage more branching.
Continue selecting scaffold branches up the tree as it grows, and continue to remove all other branches. As you train the tree, you may wish to reassess and remove branches previously planned to serve as scaffolds, leaving new shoots to serve in their place. Remember, you are training the tree for an ultimate goal of 3–5 well spaced and open scaffold branches for every 2-3 feet of vertical trunk height.
During the training process, you may wish to employ extra methods to space the scaffold branches other than selecting naturally grown branches. Pieces of wood can be placed between branches to improve spacing (Figure 2). Gently altering branch shapes with ties such as rope or twine also is effective (Figure 2). Shaping with objects or ties should be done for as short a time period as possible and should be done carefully so as not to damage bark.
Annual maintenance pruning consists of thinning twiggy branches to allow light and air to penetrate further into the canopy. Also remove any dead, damaged, diseased or crossing branches. Remove any branches growing from the central leader that have not been selected to be scaffold or scaffold replacements. You may remove the ends of scaffold branches annually to keep the tree at a desired size.
Scaffold branches do eventually get old and slow or stop producing fruit. When you identify an under performing scaffold branch, remove it and cultivate a replacement.
Knowing when to harvest Asian pears is much easier than European pears. When the predicted time of ripening arrives, taste one of the larger fruit on the tree. When they taste good, harvest them before your neighbors get to them. Ripe fruit also often have a slight softness to them. If you get too many fruit, bring them to Swansons and we will help you eat them.
DISEASE & PEST CONTROL
The best defense against pests and diseases is to provide the plants with lots of sun, air drainage, adequate water drainage for the soil, and deep supplemental irrigation in the summer. Pears are susceptible to certain diseases and pests, and monitoring for problems is a good idea.
Good garden hygiene is also important. Use sharp, clean pruners to prevent damage and the spread of disease from other plants. Cleaning up dead leaves beneath the plants in the spring is also a good practice. This will help eliminate any diseases or pests which may have overwintered there.