Fruit - The Pear
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
There are two principal classes of pears the European and the Chinese. All of our finely flavored varieties belong to the former class. The Chinese group contains such undesirable though extensively grown varieties as Kieffer, Le Conte, and Garber. No self-respecting person would have any one of these varieties in his home orchard, and no man who seeks to do unto others as he would be done by will be tempted to plant them. They have been overplanted in many sections, and, while profitable at first, have been growing less popular annually, so that the price paid for them is steadily falling. The Kieffer is often sold in cans bearing the label Bartlett. This is the strongest recommendation for the Bartlett that could be desired. There is no comparison between the two varieties. Of course, if one is living in a section where the European pears do not thrive the Chinese varieties may be used as a substitute for respectable fruit, but no one who enjoys pears will enjoy them.
The European pears do best on a rather stiff soil the Chinese on lighter ground. The land should be well drained, but well supplied with moisture. Dwarf pears should have richer, deeper, loamier soil than the European, and, if the soil is heavier, so much the better. Standard pears should be set 20 to 25 feet apart each way ; dwarfs 12 to 15 feet. Dwarf pears are so made by grafting upon quince roots. By special pruning they may be kept io or. 12 feet high, otherwise their management is the same as the standards. It is usual to cut off one-half to two-thirds of the annual growth except on fruit-bearing spurs; surplus shoots should also be removed.
Among the many varieties listed by nurserymen, the following - are considered superior : Tyson, Summer Doyenne, Clapp, and Bartlett. These will cover the season in western New York from about August I to the middle of September.
Autumn Boussock Flemish Beauty, Buffurn, Howell, Louise Bonne, Seckel, Duchess, and Sheldon. These carry on the season from mid-September until about mid-November.
Winter-Anjou, Clairgeau, Lawrence, Bose, and Winter Nellis. These will carry the season until after Christmas with ordinary storage.
For market, Bartlett, Howell, Anjou, and Lawrence are perhaps the most generally profitable.
RENOVATING UNPROFITABLE PEAR TREES
"Do not cut down a pear tree unless trees are growing too near together," says F. Coombs of Berkshire county, Massachusetts. Apple trees have their day, and the time comes when they should be removed, but pears are long-lived. They are good for generations, and will bear fine fruit if tightly treated.
" Take a look at the tree you contemplate removing. If its top runs up slim and spindling, cut it down a few feet, more or less. Next with a turf spade cut a circle around the tree as far as branches extend, being careful not to injure the roots of the tree. Remove turf to a width of 3 to 5 feet. Shake out all the loam from the grass roots and cast the latter aside. Into this space from which turf has been removed, work in very carefully a goodly quantity of finely pulverized old barnyard manure. Put it in lavishly. Work it well in, always being careful not to injure the roots. Then cover that space all over with fine, rich loam. This may be done in the fall, any time before too much frost. The result will be a good crop of plump, good-sized fruit. The same treatment can be given in the spring after frost is out. There may be some dwarf varieties of pear trees which are short-lived, but the usual pear tree will flourish and produce fine fruit to the delight of generations.
"Another important item is that the tree be not overhung by any other tree. Pear trees should stand in the full, unobstructed light. There should be no other trees, or shrubs, near enough to rob them of their root space. If one desires fine fruit, the trees must be allowed all their rights ; and must occasionally be fed after the manner indicated. They are richly worth proper attention.
"My method of harvesting the pear crop," says Ely Blackwell of Mercer county, New Jersey, "is to make the first picking entirely of number ones, sorting on tree. I use i6-quart tin pails and empty into barrels, facing two layers on the head right from the picking pail, then emptying in the rest, shaking the barrel every time a pail is emptied. Fill as high as staves, carefully placing top layers so head will settle down evenly when screw pressure is applied.
"In about two weeks I make the second picking. Then the orchard is picked clean. The pears now are placed in heaps for sorting under a tent, which we move as needed. We also use tent in picking the first time to shelter barrels and tools. The second picking is sorted in two grades. We get a fair percentage of number ones this time, as some were missed in the first picking and some that were too small are now large enough for first grade.
" This method of sorting on the tree applies only to the fruit picked by my son and myself. If we have one or two helpers, they try to pick number ones the first picking, but the pears they pick are emptied out and my son or myself or a trusty man sorts them over. I never permit any hap-hazard packing. I always have barrels neatly stenciled, with name of variety and grade, and my own name."
"All kinds of pears will ripen if picked a week to a month before they are ripe. For several reasons it is much the best plan," writes L. R. Johnson of Missouri, " thus to gather and store them away. One is, as they mature they drop easily, and a hard wind often blows off great numbers.
When blown down they are nearly always more or less damaged by being scratched or bruised, gnawed by rabbits, pecked by chickens, and variously injured by numerous other destructive agencies.
Another reason is that some varieties are subject to rot at the core if left on the tree till ripe, and scarcely any variety is of so good a flavor. In case one wishes to show a few fine specimens at the fair, it is a good plan to tie a paper 'bag over them to protect them against possible injury until it is time to gather them.
" The time to pick may be known by the pears assuming a yellow tinge. The moment this can be detected they are ready and should be gathered at once. Do not pull or jerk them off, but simply raise them gently so as to bend them back on their stems. They will then snap off without effort; a straight pull will find them very tough and tenacious. Lay them away in a dark, cool drawer on a soft cloth. Wrap each one in a piece of soft paper. The paper absorbs the moisture and keeps them from contact, which disposes to rot."