THE pear is a popular fruit of this season. Whereas the youngsters like to nibble on the hard variety, the elders like its soft and semi-soft varieties. It is a rich source of protein, Vitamins A and B and minerals like calcium, phosphorus and iron.
The pear adapts to a wide range of climatic and soil conditions, ranging from the plains of Punjab to Shimla hills. But there are distinct varieties for the different regions. For the plains, there are varieties that have a low chilling requirement. The varieties suited for the hills will, no doubt, flower in Punjab’s plains but will fail to give fruit. That is why it is important not to buy the plant from an unreliable source without knowing whether a variety is suited to the hills or the plains. This holds good for peach and plum plants too.
For the plains we have two
types of pear. The first and the most common is the sand pear, normally
called Patharnakh. The other type is semi-hard. The Patharnakh variety
is round and green with prominent dots. The flesh is crisp and juicy. In
the semi-soft category, the varieties suited for the plains are
Baggugosha and Le Conte. Both these varieties of the fruit mature in the
first week of August. Punjab Beauty, another semi-soft pear, has a light
yellow-coloured fruit with a red blush. It is sweeter than both the
Baggugosha and Le Conte. Its fruit also ripens early, in the third week
The pear is not susceptible to any serious insect, pest or disease problem. Still it faces complaints of scanty fruit, no fruit at all or the trees going barren. There may be a problem of faulty picking of the fruit. The pear fruit is borne on a short, stout extension of the stem called a spur. The growth of the spur is very slow, a few millimetres in a year. In case of the trees that start bearing fruit after 5 to 6 years, these spurs are hardly an inch or so long. Their appearance is like that of stout thorns. Normally, I have noticed that the fruit is plucked along with a part of or the complete spur. Therein lies the problem. The damaged spur fails to bear fruit the next year and at times the gap is too long. It is, therefore, necessary to pick the fruit by giving it a gentle, upward twist. When using a tall bamboo stick with a blade, as is the normal practice with gardeners, be extra cautious. In fact, this practice is not recommended. Instead, use wooden steps to climb up the tree and pluck the fruit.
The only time pear saplings can be planted is in winter, when the plants become dormant.
This feature was published on July 6, 2003