Parker pears are good all-around fruits. They are excellent fresh, in baked goods, or canned. Pyrus ‘Parker’ is a classic oblong, rusty red pear with superb crunch, juiciness, and flavor. Although Parker pear trees are susceptible to fire blight and several insects and other diseases, some tips on how to grow Parker pears can help keep the plant healthy and avoid many of these issues.
What is a Parker Pear?
Introduced in 1934 from the University of Minnesota, this tasty bronze pear is a good pollinator for ‘Luscious.’ It is an open pollinated seedling from a Manchurian pear. Parker pear trees are known for their compact form and hardiness. Plants are suitable for USDA zones 4 to 8.
The Parker pear is a semi-dwarf tree that may grow 15 to 20 feet (4.5-6 m.) tall. The tree is quite showy for several seasons. In spring, the vase-shaped tree produces copious white blooms. The late summer fruit develops a rusty red tone as they become ready. The glossy green leaves become a handsome purplish bronze in fall. Even the bark is attractive with deep furrows as the tree ages.
You may see Pyrus ‘Parker’ growing as an espalier in botanical or expert gardens, but this pear tree is most often simply grown for its delicious fruit.
How to Grow Parker Pears
Plant your Parker pear tree in late winter or early spring. Well-draining, moderately fertile soil in full sun is best for this tree. Soak bare root trees in a bucket of water for 24 hours prior to planting. Fan out roots in a hole that is dug twice as deep and wide as the root system. Water the soil in well after planting.
Parker pear trees need average water and are tolerant of urban population and almost any soil pH, although alkaline soils can cause chlorosis.
The tree will need a pollinating partner of the same species but a different variety in order to form fruit. This partner should be around 25 feet (8 m.) from the tree. In correct sites and with good Parker pear tree care, you can expect the tree to live for up to 50 years.
Parker Pear Tree Care
Pears are considered high maintenance trees. Their fruit must be picked just prior to ripeness or fruit drop will create a mess under and around the tree.
Prune the tree in late winter to form a sturdy scaffold and an open center where sun and air can penetrate. You can remove dead or diseased wood at any time of the year. Young plants may require staking to force a vertical leader.
Fertilize trees lightly with nitrogen based fertilizer in early spring. This plant is susceptible to fire blight and several other common diseases and is best suited for warm, western regions.