Pears: Organic Production

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This introduction to commercial organic pear production covers pear diseases, disease-resistant cultivars, rootstocks, insect and mite pests, and their treatment, Asian pears, and marketing. Two profiles of organic pear growers are included.

In much of the United States and with fireblight- resistant cultivars, pears may be the easiest of the major tree fruits to produce organically or with minimal spraying. Pear fertility requirements are not high—they are adapted to a wide range of climates and soils, and they have fewer pest problems than other tree fruits.

Standard cultural considerations—such as pruning, planting, spacing, and thinning—are generally the same for organic and conventional growers. For this type of cultural information, consult your county or state Cooperative Extension Service and/or find the information in orcharding texts, articles, and websites (see the Further Resources section at the end of this publication). For general cultural information more specific to organic production (organic fertilization, organic weed control, etc.), see ATTRA’s Tree Fruits: Organic Production Overview.

Pears have most of the same pest and disease problems that apples have but usually to a considerably lesser degree. ATTRA’s Apples: Organic Production Guide identifies pests and suggests organic remedies that are just as appropriate to pears; therefore, most of these problems are not discussed further in this publication. However, fire blight is considered in more depth because of its importance and prevalence on pears. Other pests and diseases peculiar to or especially troublesome to pears are also discussed.

In the last two to three decades, another type of pear, the Asian pear, has joined the more familiar European pears in American orchards and in the American marketplace.

Guy K. Ames
Holly Born