It is unfortunate for us here in the north country that most pear varieties just won’t cut it. Unlike apples which evolved at higher latitudes, there are few cultivars that can both withstand the cold winters and ripen their fruit before those first deep freezes of fall. Below are some of the pears that have done well in our orchard at Walden Heights (US hardiness zone 3).
- Walden– Originated here at Walden Heights from seed (open pollinated). Large yellow and green pear. European type. Must be ripened off the tree for best results. Very cold hardy, having taken temps near -40 F here. Generally an annual cropper, though larger crops are biennial. Will benefit from a pollenizer. Vigorous and upright growing tree will likely grow to 40 feet or more in good soil. Sweet, low grain flesh is excellent for fresh eating. Stores several months in cold storage. Ripens late Sept. into Oct. in Walden.
2. Hill – Another Walden Heights introduction. Similar to Walden. May be used to pollenize Walden or other European pears. Large yellowish pear with orange blush. Like most pyrus communis varieties the fruit should be picked when still hard and allowed to ripen in storage. Many pear types may rot on the tree before becoming sweet and tender. Zone 3 hardy. Ripens early October in Walden.
3. Summercrisp – European type pear (pyrus communis). Cold hardy into zone 3. This one can be ripened on the tree most years. Crispier than many of its type. Mild and sweet flesh. Ripens in early September in Walden. Yellow with orange blush. Fruit is small to medium in size.
4. Staceyville – Succulent flesh, and quite sweet. Ripens in early September in Walden. Cold hardy at least to zone 4.
5. Luscious – Sweet European type pear. Fruit is medium to small in our orchard. Ripens in Walden in late September. Polyploid, so will not pollenize another pear, but can itself be pollenized by most European types.
6. Hardy – Russet type. Large fruit with rich flavor. We really like this one, but it certainly suffers in our climate, having suffered dieback in many winters. Better for zone 4 or milder. Full vigor tree.
7. David – A ussurien type. This class of pears tends to be powerfully astringent, and this one is no exception. Some like them fresh, but for more of an experience than enjoyment (kind of like biting into a jalapeno just to get the exciting sensation). Very crisp and juicy though. We find it indespensible in livening up ciders, especially hard (due to the tannin). Also great in the kitchen. Gorgeous tree- the smaller fruit making for a proliferation of stark white blooms. Good tree form. Extremely cold hardy.
more to come….