[NAFEX] Kieffer history

Kieran &/or Donna holycow at frontiernet.net
Sat Jun 27 10:25:43 EDT 2009

>From the slowfoodsusa.org site.  I guess I should quit sneering at Kieffers. 
It's not that I hate them, but that there are almost no other varieties to 
be found here.  The trees are healthy and productive to a fault, can't 
complain there.  And they are very productive.  But there ARE other kinds of 
pears!   Donna

Kieffer, Roxborough, Pennsylvania 1863
The seed parent of Kieffer was the Sand pear of China. Peter Kieffer, a 
well-known nurseryman from his state, lived in Roxborough, near 
Philadelphia, grew and sold Sand pear trees for ornamental purposes. In his 
garden there were also Bartlett trees. Among chance seedlings, Mr. Kieffer 
observed one of peculiar growth, which he saved. This tree bore fruit in 
1863. The fruit matures in late October and November; medium to large in 
size; thick skin, tough, smooth; color yellow, blushed with dull red on the 
exposed cheek; dots numerous, small russet, conspicuous; flesh 
yellowish-white, very granular and coarse, crisp, juicy, not sweet, often 
astringent. Excellent for canning and baking.

Mr. Kennedy comments, "In the USA, the true pears (Pyrus communis) can be 
grown will only on the Pacific Coast. Anywhere else, pear culture is a 
struggle. In colonial times, exotic diseases such as fire blight had not 
been introduced, and others such as scab were not universally present in all 
parts of the Atlantic seaboard. It was much easier then to grow pears. By 
mid-19th century these and other disorders had become cosmopolitan and in 
the humid climates east of the Rockies, were devastating to pears. For most 
of the USA, the only variety that could be grown where these diseases 
prevailed, was the 'Kieffer,' which obtained a certain resistance (though 
not immunity) from its Asian nashi parent. However, even in Southern states 
the Kieffer did not attain a melting flesh of dessert quality equal to the 
best true pears; in the rest of the US Kieffer blooms too early and flowers 
are usually killed by frost. 'Kieffer', however, does have significance for 
extrinsic qualities: it gave rise to an Asian pear culture peculiar to the 
South, and supported (off and on, and very locally) for a century and a 
half - still going on, in various places - an industry of canning and 
preserving. The 'Kieffer' is a valid cultivar for this purpose and while not 
the same product as the ubiquitous canned 'Barletts' of California origin, 
has its own unique flavor and texture that is one of the few most 
characteristic features of Southern fruit culture."

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