maturing and productive
July 2022: The tree is growing nicely and has eight well-spaced and plump fruit developing on it. It looks so pretty in the garden.
A close up of the slowly ripening fruit. We began picking them and brining them indoors in October, where they ripened up in a few days. They were an exceptionally good flavour although they had some small pea-sized patches of hard flesh here and there. This might be a mild case of stoney-pity virus, which also causes pitting or deforming of the pear. You can see a bit of that in the photo. There is no treatment, and it does not make the pear inedible, just a bit less than perfect. So fingers crossed for next year.
[TO BE CONTINUED…]
6 thoughts on “Fan Trained Pear”
Hi Keir, loving your blog. I’m planning to start growing some trained fruit trees in my London garden and just in the planning stage – I like the idea of a pear fan-trained tree. One question I have that I can’t find an answer to anywhere is: Is it an absolute mandatory that a fan-trained tree needs to be against a wall or fence. Can I succeed in growing one between two fence posts (as part of a larger structure I’m creating which will have space for espalier trees) if well trained against firm wire/bamboo etc? Or is the wall support absolutely integral? Thanks, Henry
Hi Henry, yes you can grow a fan trained pear on wires between posts no problem. The benefits are that it will get better air circulation and more light. The main reason for growing on a wall is that the tree uses an otherwise unproductive wall. If you wanted to grow figs or peaches then a wall would increase the heat improving fruiting, but pears will manage fine in the open. (That said, there are a few pear varieties that do better on the continent than in the U.K., and they might do better against a warm wall)
We have bought fan trained pear and cherry trees, what would happen if we took the fan frames off would they just grow out naturally?
There is no problem with removing the supplied frame as long as you attach the fans to your own support (wires, fence, trellis or bamboo canes etc)
To maintain the shape you need to prune them twice per year. Late summer, tie in all main shoots that can be used to extend the shape, while cutting off any new shoots that point in the wrong direction. Cut back all side shoots to three leaves to encourage formation of fruiting spurs. In winter tie in shoots to canes and cut back any shoots that formed since the summer prune as before.
Read my articles for more information.
I tried fan training a Pear which I thought was on a dwarf rootstock. It was rampant so I guess it wasnt dwarf. Every year I had to take off at least a metre of growth and if I missed a year, forgetfulness or busy on other things, then the tree gained height and trunk girth and although some branches are very nicely trained the central ‘trunk’ has become dominant and shoots up double height above the 1.8m wall it is trained against. It also weirdly has one half which is a very prickly type and the other half smooth bark/branches -probably a result of the grafted on root stock I expect.
Anyway, my question is have you used a dwarf tree, or do you rely on good pruning every year to keep the tree to the size you have against the fence?
I don’t have the original label, but I am sure it was the standard pear rootstock, Quince A, which is classed as semi-vigorous and recommended fan or espalier training . The only other pear rootstock is quince C (semi-dwarfing) but is only suitable for open bush pruning. The reason wall trained pears need the more vigorous rootstock is because they have to put up with very heavy pruning.
To maintain wall trained fruit you have to commit to twice-yearly pruning. You can’t skip it for a year without the whole thing getting out of hand (as you seem to have discovered!) That said, it is usually possible to correct such neglect, but you will need to be ruthless, then commit to both a summer and winter pruning schedule.