[nafex] New Pear Variety for Self Sufficiency
alex at conev.org
Mon Oct 26 12:04:44 EDT 2015
A Valuable New Crop for Food Self-Sufficiency
The purpose of this document is to bring to the awareness of the reader
a new variety of pear tree that I believe will be useful for those
seeking food self-sufficiency, or simply a much better winter storage
pear. See the end of the document if you wish to acquire one or more trees.
The name of this pear tree is WinterSweet. I have been growing this tree
in 3 orchards in Central Virginia for 5 years. The attributes of this
tree and its fruit are as follows.
Vigor -- This is the fastest growing pear tree of any I have ever
planted, often growing twice as fast as other pear trees, even in
mediocre soil. In August when other pear trees have yellowed and are
readying for dormancy, this tree is still dark green and growing.
Flavor -- This is the strongest flavored pear I have ever eaten. In the
early ripening stage, it has a very strong tart-sweet flavor with bitter
overtones. As it ripens fully, the bitterness disappears and the
tartness diminishes somewhat. The ripening pattern could be comparable
to (pear-flavored) Granny Smith apples -- very tart in the early
ripening stage to finish with an excellent sweet-tart flavor as it
ripens fully. This is a storage pear. The flavor is MUCH better then
other late storage pears like Kieffer or Burford.
Sugars (Brix) -- A friend of mine has a brix tester (he's a vegetable
breeder). We tested a couple of Wintersweets. The highest brix was 15.7,
with an average at 15.0. That is higher than most other pears.
Ripening Time -- Late, harvest season begins in early October in Central
Virginia, extending for at least several weeks.
Size -- Medium, about the size of a Bartlett.
Disease Resistance -- Some of our test orchards suffer extreme disease
and insect pressure. The fruit of this pear is little bothered by
insects. The tree has suffered no blight damage whatsoever after 5 years
in an orchard with extreme blight pressure where other “blight
resistant” pears have been killed or badly damaged. This does NOT
constitute an conclusive blight resistance test.
Texture -- In the early ripening stage, the texture is poor, fibrous,
sawdusty. As the fruit ripens fully, the texture improves substantially
to become a crunchy, sweet, dense pear. At full ripe, it is still the
densest pear I have ever eaten. The texture of this pear probably means
it has little value on the grocery store shelf (where people are used to
delicate “desert” pears imported from afar).
Storage Value -- Limited experimentation leads us to believe that this
pear is an excellent storage pear. It is a very dense pear, which
appears to help it store a long time without refrigeration. We have not
done enough storage with our various varieties to make a conclusive
Pollination -- All of our Wintersweets are in orchards with numerous
other pear trees. I have no means by which to assess if WinterSweet is
self-fertile to any degree.
The mother of this tree was growing on a farm that belongs to a friend
of mine in Central VA. The mother of the WinterSweet Pear tree was a
massive tree, probably 16 inches or more in diameter, perhaps 50 feet
tall. It was in a cow pasture, and produced a prodigious quantity of
pears that we made into the most amazing cider I have ever tasted. I was
impressed by this late, dense, sweet fruit, and started grafting it. I
prize late fruit highly. I love my Seckle Pear, but in August, life is
just too full of good things for the self-sufficient farmer. The mother
of WinterSweet blew over in a storm a few years ago.
I have planted WinterSweets in 3 orchards in Central Virginia. Orchard
number 1 is in Charlottesville VA and suffers from extreme fireblight
pressure. If you are familiar with fireblight, you know that is a
/very/fickle disease that responds with extreme variability to
environmental triggers (moisture and temperature, I think). A tree that
shows no signs of blight for years may be devastated by the disease when
circumstances change. The performance of other pear trees in regards to
fireblight in orchard number 1 are as follows:
Magness -- killed to the ground.
Harvest Queen -- A Bartlett derivative that is supposed to be “much more
disease resistant” than Bartlett (quoting Cummins Nursery). My Harvest
Queen has produced some really delightful fruit, but it has been
hammered by fireblight and appears to be in terminal decline.
Kieffer -- Badly damaged by blight. (I cut it down after a few
productive years because the fruit consistently tasted like damp
Seckle -- Minor damage each year.
Ayers -- I have only had this tree a few years and have seen no damage yet.
Our number 2 and 3 test orchards have dozens of varieties of pears in
them. The blight pressure is less extreme than the number 1 orchard
(much better air movement). Some of our “blight resistant” trees have
suffered at least minor damage in these orchards as well. To date
Wintersweet has experienced no blight damage in our number 2 or number 3
The reason I believe this tree is valuable from a food self-sufficiency
standpoint is that the tree is so incredibly vigorous, shows no signs of
disease problems, produces a prodigious quantity of very sweet fruit,
produces its fruit in the fall after the peak of the annuals harvest has
passed, and probably will store for a long time in a root cellar or
other appropriate environment. *Winter fruit without canning is highly
valuable from a food self-sufficiency standpoint. *
WinterSweet appears to be a European/ Asian cross. It has a an Asian
growth pattern, with branches close together in a vertical orientation.
It does not spread naturally. It has thick stems and gives the
appearance of an Asian pear. The flavor however is radically different
than Asian pears. I have never tasted a pear with such tartness.
I believe it would be helpful for the local food movement if this pear
tree were widely disseminated, particularly for people aspiring to food
self-sufficiency. WinterSweet is a dramatically better pear than other
winter keepers like Burford or Keiffer, much sweeter and more flavorful.
Wintersweet has a later ripening time than any of the other “desert”
pears, later than any pear with which I am familiar. Given its density
and late ripening, it may store later into the winter than any of the
other storage pears, though I cannot make that claim based on systematic
comparisons with other pears.
Plan to Disseminate
We have a limited quantity of fruit at this time. We also have an
excellent solar food drying system. I am part of an organization called
Living Energy Farm that is building a farm and a community that will run
without fossil fuel (see livingenergyfarm.org). I would like to
propagate this tree and let the proceeds support Living Energy Farm. In
the winter of 2015-2016, I will order roostock. (I teach propagation
classes and get the rootstock for those classes.) I use OHxF pear
rootstock. WinterSweet is the fastest growing pear of any we have
planted on OHxF rootstock, which is a modern, blight-resistant
rootstock. We use OHxF 333, a semi-dwarf rootstock, and OHxF 97, which
produces a near full-sized tree. Our earliest WinterSweets are on 333
rootstock, and have a vertical orientation topping off at about 15 feet.
I don't think they are going to get any taller. So far our WinterSweets
on OHxF 97 are wider, and perhaps 20 feet tall. I don't know what the
final height of a WinterSweet on OHxF 97 might be.
This winter, we are going to try to send dried samples of WinterSweet to
as many people as we can (at no charge). We are going to propagate trees
based on the number of people who say they are interested in purchasing
trees shipped to them in winter 2016-2017 (about a year from now). If
you want a tree, let us know now. Asking for a tree now will NOT commit
you to buying one a year from now. We will ask for payment then, and you
can decline at that time if you choose. But I don't want to propagate a
lot of trees unless there is sufficient interest. Final cost will depend
on what we can figure our for shipping. I would estimate something in
the range of $30 - $40 for one tree, and an additional $25 for each
I will probably not disseminate scion wood this year as supply is
limited. Please let me know if you would like to make buy a WinterSweet
next winter. Please let me know if you want a free sample (small) of the
dried fruit. We will be sending these samples to a LIMITED number of
people. Please send an email with WinterSweet in the subject line to
tradelocally (that email symbol) yahoo.com to indicate your interests.
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