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April 7, 2018


We are thinking about planting a new pear tree, specifically a Kiefer variety. Is this a good time to plant and are there other varieties that would grow well in southeastern Arkansas? If we do decide to plant, what kind of care would the new tree need and when could we expect to see our first harvest?


You will probably find the largest selection of edible pear trees in the spring versus in the fall, so it is a fine time to plant.  Comice, Moonglow and Maxine are 3 good fruiting varieties of pears for Arkansas.  Kieffer is an older canning variety.  Here is a link to our fact sheet on growing pears in the home garden.

They also are not invasive like the ornamental pear trees.  First harvest will depend on the age of the tree you plant. Typically most fruit trees take 3-7 years to begin production depending on the species and the care. 


June 20, 2017


I bought a piece of property a few years ago that had a pear tree on it. About 3 years ago a part of the tree died & I cut it out. Since then there has not been any pears on it. In the spring it blooms & produces what looks like clusters of pear looking fruit, but they never get over about a nickel in size. Could this have been a grafted tree & would I be better just replacing it.



Most commercial pears are grafted trees, with the rootstock being a callery pear, which is what all of the ornamental pears that are taking over our roadsides are.  They do set fruit but it rarely gets larger than a quarter in size.  If you want edible pears, either buy a new tree or graft a desirable variety onto this one.


February 11, 2017


When we were clearing the lot to build our house several years ago I noticed that a tree that was blooming very early in the year appeared to be a "Pear" tree so we left it.  It was a Pear tree and almost every year it has literally thousands of pears. The problem: The pears never get any larger than a "golf" ball.  I have tried several things to include thinning the pears, really reducing the number, hoping the ones remaining would grow to normal size. Do you have any suggestions?  Is there some type of fertilizer, mineral or some kind of magical dance that can make a difference or should I just admit defeat and remove the tree?



Unfortunately for you, I believe you have a Callery pear tree which is an ornamental pear.  Pyrus calleryana is the parent of all of the ornamental pear varieties, of which Bradford is the most well-known.  These ornamental pear trees have re-seeded and become quite invasive across Arkansas. While they do have beautiful white blooms in the spring followed by stunning red fall foliage, the resulting fruits are eaten by the birds, seeds are dropped and we have an inordinate number of pear trees blanketing the landscape. The fruit on these trees range in size from a bb size up to a golf ball size.  There is nothing you can do to alter the size of the fruit.


September 17, 2016


Can you help explain why the pears on the right do not resemble the fruit from the parent tree on the left? I started many from seeds and this is the first year any have had fruit. The parent tree is at the old homestead in east Arkansas and has produced wonderful and plentiful pears since 1952. Our family wanted to continue the production and now I have several with relatives that should start producing in the next couple of years. Dreading to have to explain why they will not have an original.  Thanks…

                      Pear Comparison
AnswerPears do not breed true from seeds.  The fruit may be similar or totally different, and the sad thing is you have to wait 4-8 years before you ever know. Theirs may be different from yours, as each seedling has its own genetics.  You can use the seeds to grow a pear tree, and then graft the desirable variety to the pear seedling—then you will be guaranteed to get the same thing. Think of all the thousands of pear seedlings flanking our roadsides that came from the ornamental Bradford pears. The fruit size can run from a small bb to a large crabapple—it is called genetic diversity.  It is still a pear, just not the one you want.   So take some cuttings from the original pear and graft away.    


November 7, 2015


I am relatively new at trying to grow plants and trees.  I have a pear tree that is young, about 3 years old now, and is still quite spindly.  It produced quite a few pears this year but the trunk of the tree is very slender.  Should I fertilize this tree and if so, when?  I also have some plum trees that I think need fertilizing.  They are older, about 10 years, and still produce but some of the limbs have died.  Should I fertilize them and if so, when?


Most fruit trees benefit from an application of fertilizer once or twice a year depending on their age.   For young trees, in early spring broadcast a complete fertilizer (10-10-10).  You can repeat this again in June. For older trees broadcast fertilizer around the tree every year in late March.  Usually well-established trees only need one application of fertilizer a year, but watering is important for all fruit trees.  


(September 2010)

QuestionI have attached photos of what I believe to be some kind of pear.  As you will notice, the fruit is small about the size of a ping pong ball, but the texture and flesh very much resemble a pear, as does the leaf and limbs.  Please let me know what you think that it is.  The reason for the inquiry is that there are 3 of these trees along the Arkansas River and the deer like to camp out around them endlessly searching for dropping fruit.  If you know what this tree is, could you possibly tell me where I could purchase some of them or if the seed might be viable, Thanks.


AnswerYou will find many seedling pears around the state.  The Bradford pear and other ornamental pears are all selections of the Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana).  The fruits can run the size of a bb to a crabapple.  When the birds drop the seeds, there is a great deal of variability in the resulting seedling pear.  While deer may flock to them, and probably birds and squirrels, many of these seedling pears are becoming a nuisance plant--quite invasive.    You will also find that many of these seedlings have thorns on them too.

(September 2006)

QuestionI would appreciate any advice in regards to insects, fertilizing, and watering of my outdoor plants.  I live in the country and have 8 acres.  About two of those acres I maintain.  I have Crepe Myrtles, Carolina Jasmine, Ivy, Pampas Grass, Junipers, numerous Holly bushes, Roses (climbing and for cutting), Wisteria vines on a tree and on a chain-link fence, Apple, Pear and plum trees and Azaleas.  Each plant seems to have different requirements.  I find myself watering all the above every other day.  I fertilize at the appropriate times and spray for insects (preventive, systemic), and diseases.  My Apple tree didn't flower this year.  Instead, it developed rust spots.  My plum tree had one flower on it and the pear tree had about 10 fruit.  These 3 trees are about 2-3 years old.  I find that my Roses require lots of attention due to problems with insects, diseases (rust, black spot, mites, etc.).  It is wearing me out!  I give all the above plants as much attention and care with the products available. It seems as if I am the only one in my area doing such.  I marvel at other yards with the same plants and wonder what they are doing or not doing to maintain those plants.  I never see anyone outside watering like I do.  My soil is a mixture of dirt, sand and clay.  I amend the soil each time I plant something new.  I guess what I'm asking is:  Once a plant is established, is it necessary to water like I'm watering?  If I don't, the plants appear to stress.  Also, how do I control my insect problem.  I fear that this year I may have over used some products and killed the good insects and left the plants prey to opportunistic insects and diseases.  Help, please.


AnswerOne thing to be aware of is that frequent watering makes plants demand more, because it encourages shallow roots.  Infrequent, deep watering encourages  a deep root zone.  However, every yard is different.  Rocky soils, those with steep slopes and in full sun require more water than level yards with great soil.  You have also picked some pretty needy plants.  Fruit trees require quite a bit of maintenance, including spray schedules and watering. They also often don’t begin to bear fruit well until they are 5-8 years of age.  Hybrid tea roses also require constant care.  Many folks are opting for low-input plants which require less care—if you want roses, try the new environmentally friendly roses, like Knockout, or the antique roses.  Mulching is also something that I would strongly encourage.  It helps to retain moisture and moderates the soil temperature.  The azaleas you have also need water.  Grasses, junipers, Carolina jasmine, hollies and wisteria should be much lower maintenance.  Gradually wean them from their daily water needs by applying more water when you do water,  and applying it less often.  It isn't something you can reverse overnight.  Many people with automatic sprinkler systems make this mistake.  Monitor for insects and diseases and spray as needed.  For the fruit trees and roses, preventative sprays are often best.

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