Pear fruit cultivation
Pears belong to the genus Pyrus. The cultivars are not true to type when grown from seed, hence the need for vegetative propagation, most common methods being budding and grafting. Pears can be grown in temperate zones, subtropics and even in the tropics; it all depends on the type of cultivar used and its adaptability. Pears do require adequate chilling effect for successful fruit bud development.
The pear tree can do well in different soil types and condition. One can easily modify soil fertility to attain optimum conditions. Pears are reasonably tolerant to drought and wet soils but can’t withstand flooding which can injure the root system. Good drainage and soil depth will greatly determine if your fruit tree will develop well. A soil pH of about 6.0-7.0 is ideal, due to the fact that the pear tree can tolerate slightly acidic soil. Any fertilizer application program should be done based on soil and leaf analysis.
For maximum fruit production the pear tree should be exposed to plenty of sunlight. A chilling requirement is also an important factor to be considered, a cold season is required to break dormancy. Lack of chilling delays leaf formation and leads to poor fruit set. In Kenya, Limuru is a major pear growing zone due to the cold season that dominates the area. Different cultivars have different chilling requirements. Cultivars with low chilling effect are desired especially in the tropics.
Pears take 3 to 5 years for the tree to start fruiting. Thinning is desirable if the cultivar used is a heavy producer, removing the excess fruit will allow the rest to develop into a good marketable size. Most pear cultivars are self-non-fruitful making cross pollination an important factor that will determine good fruit production. Two different varieties should be planted to facilitate cross-pollination to ensure a commercial crop. Plant trees of different varieties within 40 to 50 feet of each other to enable cross-pollination.
The fruits should be hand-picked to avoid any damage; a mature tree can produce up to 180 kilograms. For good fruit quality preventative control of pests and diseases is required. The common diseases and pests include; scab, rust, black spot, fire blight, root rot, powdery mildew, fruit flies, aphids, and red spider mites. It is advisable to contact your extension officer for proper diagnosis and recommendations.