Growing Pears: Exhibition tips
Pears for exhibition are divided into two categories: cooking and dessert. The methods of preparation and presentation are the same for both. In both categories the judges will look for large fruits with eyes and stalks intact. The skins should be clear and unblemished, and the colour appropriate to the variety. Six is the usual number shown of the same variety, and they should be as uniform as possible. Do not include one or two enormous pears, which would make ‘”e remaining fruit seem small by comparison, and spoil the exhibit. Never display over-ripe pears, small, misshapen fruits, or fruits with blemishes.
To get the best pears, thin the crop while the fruits are still small. As the selected pears ripen, expose them gradually to more and more sunshine, by carefully removing the leaves closest to them and tying back the overhanging foliage. Pick more pears than the actual number needed, so that you have a reserve supply when you are setting up the exhibit.
Pears shaped like apples are usually staged with eyes uppermost, and stalk end downwards; place one fruit in the centre and the remaining fruit around it. You can raise the central fruit slightly by placing white tissue paper underneath it.
Varieties of Pear Tree to Grow
Although Conference and William’s Bon Chretien are the most popular, there are many other fine flavoured varieties which should be planted more often. Remember that the more varieties you plant, the better crops you will have from each.
Beurre Bedford: large, pale yellow fruit, relatively resistant to scab; fruit ripens late summer or early autumn; erect and compact growth; mid-season flowering.
Doyenne d’Ete: small, yellow, conical fruit; one of the first to ripen in mid to late summer; juicy and pleasant flavour; tree has weak but spreading growth; flowers early to mid-season; not very good for restricted training.
Jargonelle: very old variety but still popular; long, greenish-yellow, tapering fruit; relatively scab resistant; heavy cropper; will do well in the north of England or on north-facing wall; flowers mid-season; tree large, spreading growth, tip-bearing; must have two pollinators, Beurre Superfin is suitable.
Early to mid-autumn pears
Gorham: long, pale yellow pear with heavy russeting; good flavour; fills the gap between William’s and Conference; scab resistant; tree of hardy and upright growth; late flowering.
Dr Jules Guyot: self-fertile variety; better flavour than Conference; yellow fruit, black dotted skin, often flushed scarlet; tree fertile and hardy, upright growth; flowers late in season. Fertility Improved: sweet, juicy, crisp pear; heavy cropper, often needs thinning; disease resistant; self-fertile; fruit small, yellow, but heavily russeted; tree tall and upright in growth with red autumn foliage; flowers late in season.
Marguerite Marillat: self-fertile pear, although it will not pollinate other varieties; crops well; yellow flesh, skin flushed with bright scarlet; upright, small tree with scarlet autumn leaves; flowers early, so avoid a frost pocket.
William’s Bon Chretien: best known and most widely grown of all pears, also called Bartlett; irregular, roundish, pale yellow fruit with red flush; moderate flavour, juicy flesh; very susceptible to scab; upright tree, suitable for training against north wall; needs double working; flowers mid-season.
Merlon Pride: green pear of good size; very good flavour; heavy cropper; tree upright in growth; flowers mid-season.
Mid to late autumn pears
Beurre’ Hardy: large, round, conical, coppery russeted fruit with red flush; very good flavour; fertile; relatively resistant to scab; tree vigorous, full and spreading; prune lightly; leaves scarlet in autumn; flowers late in season; fruits best picked a little before they part readily from the tree; keep two or three weeks before eating.
Beurre Superfin: long, golden yellow fruit patched with russet; less vigorous pear good for; makes good cordons; fruit does not keep well, pick late in early autumn; mid-season flowering.
Conference: most reliable of all pears; long, pale green fruit with silvery russet; prolific cropper; pick late in early autumn and keep one to three weeks before eating; self-fertile but will do better if cross-pollinated; vulnerable to wind damage and scab; moderate flavour; flowers mid-season.
Doyenne du Cornice: large, roundish, golden fruit with light russetting and red flush; superb flavour; not entirely reliable in bad years or bad locations; needs several varieties to pollinate, to ensure regularly good crops; very susceptible to scab and sulphur-shy; vigorous upright growth; good against wall or as cordon; flowers late in season; pick late in early autumn or early in mid-autumn and keep a few weeks. Louise Bonne of Jersey: greenish-yellow fruit, flushed red; flesh white and delicious; fertile; tree hardy and vigorous; upright in growth; regular cropper; exceptionally beautiful blossom; flowers early in the season.
Durondeau: fruits long, tapering, red russet; good flavour; stores well; tree small, suitable for small gardens; spurs well and is good in restricted forms; red autumn foliage; crops heavily in suitable; flowers mid-season.
Packham’s Triumph: fruits broad, squat, bright green changing to bright yellow; juicy, very sweet; crops well, and ripens 10 days before Co mice’, moderate sized, tip-bearing tree; flowers mid-season.
Early and mid-winter pears
Glou Morceau: green pears, turning yellow when ripe; sweet flavour, keeps well; does best on sunny wall or in sheltered garden; flowers late in season.
Josephine de Malines: small, green fruit, yellow when ripe with a russet patch; flesh pink, with delicious scent and sweet flavour; best of all winter pears; stores well; fruit ripens unevenly in store, so inspect regularly; fertile and reliable cropper, especially in warm gardens; tip-bearing and tending to droop; flowers mid-season.
Winter Nelis: juicy, sweet, smallish pear, best eaten while still yellowish green; fertility good and useful for pollinating Cornice; ripens over a month or more; tree has slender, arching growth; scab resistant; flowers late in season.
Santa Claus: excellent type to choose if growing on a sheltered wall; may not be successful in harsh climates; heavy cropper of well-flavoured brownish-red russet fruits; vigorous, upright growth; very attractive in autumn when foliage turns crimson and purple.
Late cooking pears
Catillac: large, green, cooking pear remaining hard until mid-spring; scab resistant; tree spreading with broad leaves and large flowers; vigorous cropper but needs two other trees to pollinate it; blossoms late in season.