Growing Pears in the Southeast

Updated on May 4, 2019

History, Types, and Disease

Most gardeners think pears are an easy-to-grow fruit that are not worth investing much effort. No doubt the hard-sand pear varieties most often grown in the South have encouraged this attitude.

Pears were first introduced into the US around 1630. The European pear is noted for its quality but is also known for its susceptibility to fire blight (a disease that damages the tree). Asian varieties introduced later, like the sand pear (Pyrus pyrifolia), enjoy increased resistance to fire blight, but is much harder than the European pear. Asian pears, erroneously first called “pear apples,” are increasingly in demand. The fruit is mostly round like an apple, but that’s where the similarities end. The flavor is very mild—some might say bland—and the fruit is very juicy. In fact, you need a bib to eat one.

Fire blight isn’t the only ailment that damages pears. Pears in the South suffer from fungal leaf spot diseases that often defoliate trees by mid-summer, causing them to set a new crop of leaves and often causing them to bloom in the fall. Eventually, this begins to reduce tree vigor and hurt spring production. Appropriately timed applications of fungicide will limit this disease.

Soils and Fertility

Pears are very tolerant of both soil condition and moisture problems. They grow and produce best in well-drained sandy loam soil. Pears will grow in clay soil, light sandy soil, dry soil with a little additional irrigation, and wet soil if mounded slightly. Fertilizing is easy when it comes to pears. Basically, the best fertilization program is no program. On very poor soil, one pound of 13-13-13, or a similar complete fertilizer, can be applied to young trees in February or March. Mature trees, even in poor soil, should not be fertilized.

Pruning and Training

Young pear trees should be trained using the modified central leader system (here). Pears have an upright columnar growth habit. It is critical that you prop the branches at an angle between 45° and 60° as you train the young trees. This will encourage early production, strong branch angles, and better open-growth habits.

Summer pruning can be used to direct growth and increase the development of fruiting spurs and branches. Vigorous shoots can be tipped to slow growth and stimulate the development of side branches. Removal of water sprouts and suckers should be done as soon as they are noticed. You’ll have less regrowth of these sprouts if you break them off as soon as they appear, so check your trees often.

Mature trees should be pruned as little as possible. Annual thinning of internal shoots, water sprouts, and an occasional older branch is recommended instead of heavy top pruning.

A mature pear tree with ripe fruit.
A mature pear tree with ripe fruit.

Good To Know:

Healthy pear trees can be extremely productive. They can be expected to produce between 15 and 25 tons of fruit per acre!

Flowering, Pollination, and Fruit Thinning

Fruit buds or spur development on pears is similar to that on apples. A spur is a short, leafy shoot that terminates in a cluster of 5 to 7 flowers. Any given spur will generally fruit every other year for 7 or 8 years. This means that about half of the spurs are producing each year.

Also, pears need two or more varieties that bloom at the same time to promote good fruit development.

Pears have a tendency to overproduce. Heavy fruit loads can reduce vigor and either bend or break limbs. Before this happens, some fruit should be removed (i.e. thinned). This will help increase fruit size and quality of the remaining crop.

Check out your local nursery for the best pear varieties in your area!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)