The Asian Pear. It thrives in our ‘Unique’ climate, is highly resistant to most common pests & disease, and is a reliable cropper of large, delicious yields of fruit year after year.
Crisp yet juicy, the Asian Pear makes wonderful eating fresh, while also being well suited to Jam and Perry making.
It really is a wonder you don’t see them around more often in this country.
Native to East Asia, a mature Asian Pear generally tops out at around 20ft, with some variation to be found here between cultivars. Although the stock of cultivars available in the UK at the moment is quite limited, there is some variation to be had if you’re willing to shop around a little.
Asian Pear Yields & Harvesting
Yields & Thinning
Trees will generally provide substantial crops from 5-6 years onwards, with a steady decline once they’re around the 25 year mark. In our experience however, the battle is in keeping the tree from damaging itself through such heavy cropping, along with finding a way to use the mountain of Pears once picked!
Not a bad problem to have.
To this end, keep an eye on any seemingly weak or overloaded branches once the fruit begins to ripen. Selectively removing (thinning) a few fruit at points you feel limbs could fail will not only lead to a healthier tree in the long term, but to larger, tastier fruit come harvesting time.
Most Asian Pear cultivars currently available in the UK are at least partially self-fertile, however if you have the room for two then a little cross-pollination can never be a bad thing.
It is worth noting that European pear varieties can also cross pollinate with the Asian Pear, assuming they share compatible pollination windows. This is rarely the case however, with European Pear varieties generally flowering too late to cross with their Asian counterparts, but it is possible.
We’ve intermingled our Pears quite haphazardly around the garden and have had no trouble with pollination, but it’s not exactly a scientific approach to planting!
Harvesting & Storage
Fruit is ready to harvest in Autumn, with storage times varying across cultivars. As a general rule, expect an Asian Pear to remain fresh for around a week at room temperature, and around three months when refrigerated.
I’d suggest cider & jam making as a great use for any excess yield, once you’ve impressed all of the neighbours of course (If our trees are anything to go by, there’ll be plenty to go around!).
Caring for your Asian Pear.
When pruning your Asian Pear, the usual fruit-tree rules apply. Save any heavy pruning work for dormancy periods (Winter is best), removing any damaged or crossing branches, any disease which may have begun to take hold, and finally, prune for desired shape.
General advice is to refrain from removing any more than 25% of the existing branches whenever possible, a rule we’ve only ever had to break when tackling the most extreme of cases.
Mulch twice annually with a thick layer of organic material, with Spring / Autumn being the ideal rotation to follow. Choice of mulch is completely up to you, and can be as complicated as a high-quality home mixed compost, or as simple as fallen leaves or wood chippings.
Lay the mulch around the base of the tree in a doughnut shape making sure that the trunk is left exposed. This allows for a healthy amount of airflow, reducing your Asian Pears chance of picking up some nasty diseases.
Whatever you end up plumping for, keep it topped up with a healthy layer of biodegradable goodness and your Asian Pear will surely thank you for it.
Disease & Pest Control
Codling moth & Blight should be closely monitored, as certain cultivars can be susceptible to either in certain conditions.
For a holistic approach to tackling these problems (and many more), while helping your local beneficial pollinators, producing secondary crops and adding an extra flash of beauty to the garden in the meantime, have a quick nose at our Fruit Tree Companion Planting Guide.
Asian Pear Cultivars
So, with the Asian Pear remaining so rare in this country, our choice of cultivars remains on the small side. If you’re willing to shop internationally you’d be amazed at the variety you can find further afield, with both Europe and East Asia in particular having a far broader selection on offer.
To keep things simple however, we’ll take a look at our favourite cultivars widely available in the UK. Although a small list, we’ve personally found each to be more than worth their while.
- Hosui – Large, Sweet, Golden fruits with good disease resistance. Partially self-fertile. Good flavour.
- Kosui – Small, Sweet, Bronze fruits which ripen early. Partially self-fertile. Very good flavour. Cooks well into pies etc.
- Shinko – Large, Sweet / Tart, Pale fruits with excellent disease resistance. Very heavy cropper. Good flavour.
- Chojuro – Medium, Butterscotch / Sweet, Russeted fruits. Requires a pollinator, with Nijisseiki & Hosui particularly suited. Fruit stores particularly well. Very nice, truly unique flavour.
- Nijisseiki (20th Century) – Medium, Sharp / Sweet, Yellow fruits. Partially self-fertile. Excellent flavour.
- Shinseiki – Medium, Crisp, Pale fruits. Partially self-fertile. Fruit stores very well. Good flavour.
- The Book of Pears: The Definitive History and Guide to over 500 varieties – The only pear-centric book that I personally own, and the only one I’ve ever needed. A fantastic read for anyone interested in the cultivation, history and huge variation present within the wonderful world of Pears.
So there we have it! Heavy yields of delicious, unusual fruit, with very little hassle. We’re big fans of the Asian Pear here at Ecogeeks, and we’re sure if given the chance, you will be too.