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Growing Pears in Florida
Yes, certain varieties of pear trees can be successfully grown in South Florida. Floradahome, Hood, and Pineapple are the only cultivars recommended for SW Florida.
Use a known pear cultivar on suitable rootstocks. Pear trees can be planted on a variety of soil types, however, they grow best in a fertile, sandy loam soil with deep internal drainage.
Plant trees anytime during the dormant season, but the period from late December through January is best because it allows time the roots to become established. Mixing nutrient-rich amendment with the native soil can be beneficial to transition from the soil used by the grower and to "jump-start" the growth process.
The planting hole should be dug large enough so that the root system is not crowded, bent, or broken. The plant should be placed at the same height they stood in the nursery or slightly higher. Put one or two shovels full of soil around the root ball in the hole, and pack it firmly around the roots. Repeat this procedure until the hole is full of soil and the plant is firmly in place.
It is desirable to add water when the hole is about two-thirds filled with soil in order to settle the soil around the roots. After the water has soaked into the soil, finish filling the hole. Fertilizer should NOT be placed directly in the hole at planting time.
Flordahome and Pineapple pear trees require cross-pollination and should be inter-planted with each other or with Hood, as these three cultivars tend to bloom together.
Training and Pruning
Pears are pruned tor two purposes: to remove diseased or dead wood and to train or shape the tree. Most pears tend to grow upright, thereby causing the fruit to be difficult to pick. Pruning to a modified leader system helps to open the center and encourages the tree to spread. We will provide a link to the Author's site to show graphics on how to prune.
Maintain a weed-free area approximately two feet from the tree trunk. Mulches can be effective to control weeks and conserve moisture.
We recommend the use of a quality control-release fertilizer container micro-nutrients formulated for our South Florida soils. This should be applied in two applications, during dormancy (January) and at the beginning of the rainy season (June). About 1 pound for each year of age of the tree should be sufficient until a maximum of 10 pounds is reached. Do not fertilize at planting.
The irrigation needs of Pears are not unique. The objective is to make sure that the roots of the tree stay moist and not completely dry out. Our SW Florida soil tends to be sandy, and usually require more water than other areas in the state. Less water is needed during the rainy months. The use of mulch can assist in retaining moisture around of the root ball as the plant is established.
Harvesting and Storage
Pears ripen satisfactorily in storage at room temperature. Wrapping pears in paper before storing will result in better ripening. The fruit should be picked when full size is obtained and yellow color begins to show. This premature harvest allows ripening without full development of the stone cells which give the fruit a gritty texture. Fruit ripening on the tree is often unsatisfactory due to unevenness in maturity and decay problems.
Preventive control of pests is required to maintain beautiful foliage and good fruit quality. Suckers, sprouts and dead wood which can harbor fire blight bacteria should be removed.
Growing Pears in Florida, T.E. Crocker and W.B. Sherman; University of Florida, IFAS circular 343.