If you love pears and have a small home orchard, you need to add a summer variety or two of this tasty fruit. Growing summer pears will give you earlier fruit, and if you have autumn pears as well, will give you an extended and longer harvest season. For true pear enthusiasts, summer pears are a must.
What is a Summer Pear?
There are many different varieties of pear, but they can be broadly categorized as two types: summer and winter. The difference between them is when harvest time begins. Summer pears are ready to be harvested beginning in late mid to late summer (July or August) in most places, while the harvest for winter pears doesn’t begin until the very end of summer or early autumn (August or September).
Summer Pear Varieties
Most types of summer pear are small or medium in size. They have a thin skin and bruise easily. They don’t store well, so be ready to enjoy fresh fruit daily or to preserve these pears. Here are some examples of summer pear varieties to try in your backyard orchard:
- Bartlett. This is the most common pear variety grown in the U.S. and worldwide. You don’t need another tree for pollinating Bartlett, but it will improve yields. The fruits are golden when ripe and delicious fresh or in desserts. Unlike other summer pears, these can ripen off the tree. There is also a red variety of Bartlett.
- Starkrimson. This pretty red pear developed as a sport on a Clapp’s Favorite tree. The fruits of Starkrimson are juicy, sweet, and floral.
- Tosca. Tosca pears are sweet and juicy with a crisper texture than most others. It was developed using Bartlett and is green, turning to yellow with a blush when ripe.
- Warren. These pears are not the prettiest, with dull brown skin, but they are well worth growing for flavor. Warren pears are sweet, smooth, and delicious.
- Honey. Honey pear trees are actually more like shrubs. They are natural dwarfs and grow no more than 8 feet (2 m.) tall. The fruits are sweet and brown to russet in color.
Do You Know When to Pick Summer Pears?
It’s important to know when to harvest your summer pears to get the most out of them. Summer pears ripen on the tree. This makes them great for home growing because you can harvest and use the fruit right away. Here are some signs your summer pears are ready to enjoy:
- The color has brightened
- The flesh gives a little when you squeeze the pear
- There is a pleasant aroma, especially at the calyx
Of course, taking a bite is the true test, but with these signs and some practice, you should be able to determine when to pick summer pears for optimal flavor and texture.