Pears are adapted to most of Louisiana. It is not unusual to find 40- and 50-year-old trees still producing fruit, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. John Pyzner.
The Oriental hybrids are the main type grown in the state. This group includes Kieffer, Pineapple, Orient, Baldwin, Maxine, Ayers and Spalding. Pyzner says the reason these hybrids thrive in Louisiana is that they generally have good resistance to fire blight. This disease sometimes severely damages other pear varieties, however. The popular European varieties–Bartlett, Bosc and D’Anjou–are not recommended for Louisiana because of high susceptibility to fire blight.
Many Oriental hybrid pears such as Keiffer and Pineapple produce firm to hard fruit that usually have a high number of grit cells. These pears are often used in making preserves, jams, pickles, relishes and mincemeat. Maxine, Magness, Moonglow and Ayres are some of the better fresh-eating Oriental hybrid pears.
Pyzner says pears differ from most fruits in that to obtain the best quality, the fruit should be harvested before it is fully ripe. Fruit left to ripen on the tree becomes coarse and gritty.
The horticulturist notes that pears are ready to pick when the fruit changes from hard to firm, about the firmness of a softball. He says there is often a slight color change from green to yellow green in some varieties. The small dots or indentations in the skin (lenticels) are white on immature fruit. The lenticels change to brown when the fruit is ready to pick. Most Louisiana pears are ready for harvest in late August or September.
Pyzner says to place harvested fruit in a bowl or paper bag and let stand at room temperature until ripe. The fruit is ripe when it yields to gentle thumb pressure applied near the base of the stem. Refrigerate ripe fruit until ready to use.
For related topics, look for Gardening and Get It Growing links in the Feature section of the LSU AgCenter Web site: www.lsuagcenter.com Additional yard and garden topics are available from an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.
On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/Source: John Pyzner (318) 644-5865, or Jpyzner@agcenter.lsu.edu
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