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The two types of pear trees are the Asian pear (Pyrus serotina) and the European pear (Pyrus communis). Most pear trees require cross-pollination from pollen sources from nearby common trees, but some pear trees often do not require cross-pollination to set fruit because they are self-bearing. Both types of pear trees have autoflowering varieties. However, even some self-fruiting pear trees may require cross-pollination to set fruit if planted in regions where flowering occurs in cooler temperatures.
Which Fruit Trees Need Cross Pollination
Most fruit trees rely on insects and wind to transfer pollen from the male reproductive parts of the flowers to the female parts. All fruiting trees require pollination to produce fruit. The anthers in the flowers of fruit trees contain pollen, and the pistils bear fruit. The reproductive parts of the flowers are usually placed separately. The anthers and pistils of some pear trees bloom together, reducing the need for cross-pollination to produce fruit.
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Some Asian pear trees are partially self-bearing and tend to overproduce when cross-pollinated. Their pears have earned the nickname “apple pears” due to their resemblance to apples. Two native Asian pear varieties that do well in California are ‘Shinseiki’ and ’20th Century’. The ‘Shinseiki’ tree does best in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zones 6 through 8 and produces round pear fruits with yellow skins. The “20th Century” variety is hardy in USDA Zones 5 through 9 and produces pears that are round, yellow-skinned and tastier than “Shinseiki” pears. Asian pear trees have thin fruit, one fruit per cluster, to produce larger fruit and reduce stress on the branches.
Depending on the variety, European pear trees vary in size and shape, while pears vary in their freshness. Self-fertile varieties include ‘Kieffer’, ‘Anjou’, ‘Comice’, ‘Duchess’ and ‘Barlett’. ‘Kieffer’ pear trees are hardy in USDA Zones 4 through 9. The ‘Anjou’ pear tree produces oval fruit with thin, light green skin and grows best in USDA Zones 4 through 8. “Comice” and “Duchess” performed well in zones 5 to 9. The “Comice” variety produces round pears with a short neck and short stem. “Comice” and “Anjou” pears do not change color when ripe.
The ‘Bartlett’ pear tree grows well in the Sacramento River Delta region and USDA zones 5 through 7 and is a self-fruiting tree. According to the University of California, the ‘Bartlett’ variety accounts for 75 percent of the world’s pear production. The ‘Bartlett’ pear tree produces bell-shaped fruit that turns yellow when ripe. Use ‘Bartlett’, ‘Comice’ and ‘Anjou’ pears in salads and desserts for their sweet juiciness.
Pear trees grow best in deep, well-drained soil and are vulnerable to pests. The California pear harvest season runs from mid-July to September. Asian pears can be ripened on the tree. Pick them off the tree as soon as they change color. Asian pears require careful handling after harvest to prevent excessive bruising. European pears are harvested before they are ripe on the tree. Let them mature at room temperature before serving.
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Tia Shamoon has been writing online since 2009, focusing on topics such as interior decorating, party planning, history, family, frugal living and cooking. Shamoon earned a BA in Creative Writing and History from the University of Central Arkansas and is currently pursuing a Masters in Teaching at the University of Southern Arkansas.
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Tempted by the idea of growing your own fruit? This can be very rewarding and not very difficult, but…first you have to understand the strange sexual habits of fruit trees and small fruit.
Cross-pollination is necessary for most temperate fruit trees, including apple trees and most plum, cherry, and pear trees. The plants are “self-sterile,” meaning that their pollen doesn’t fertilize the flowers themselves, so they need other cross-pollinated varieties to produce fruit.
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For example, pollen from a “free” apple tree cannot fertilize a flower on the same tree or another “free” flower. However, if you grow a different variety nearby, in fact, almost any apple variety (‘Novamac’, ‘Priscilla’, ‘Macfree’, etc.), it will pollinate the ‘Liberty’ apples to produce abundant fruit. .
Therefore, to facilitate fruit production, the simple solution is always to plant two or more varieties of any fruit tree.
) are very closely related and can cross pollinate. Note also that crabapples are also apples, which only bear small fruit, and they also pollinate apple trees. That’s why, in many suburban areas where crabapples are commonly grown, it’s not always necessary to plant a second apple tree for a good harvest: the bees will only carry the pollen they need from neighboring crabapples.
Spp.) are related to apples, their pollen does not fertilize the flowers of the apple tree, and vice versa. However, like apples, most pears (
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), the situation is more complicated: again, most are self-fertile, but usually they require the same plants
) can pollinate other American plums. But to complicate things further, some American plums can pollinate certain European and Japanese plums! But, simply put, as long as you grow plums of the same variety, you will always get good pollination.
) pollinate sour cherries, and almost any other cherry (and there are dozens of them!) will pollinate its own species of cherries, but not other species of cherries.
) are autofertile (the pollen itself nourishes the flowers), so you don’t need two different trees to get a good harvest.
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) and nectarines, which are simply peaches without fuzz, although some peach and nectarine varieties are self-fertile, i.e., varieties that require pollinators. apricot (
Most of the small fruit are also self-pollinating, so even isolated plants will bear fruit. The main exception here are haskaps, also known as honeyberry (
There are exceptions in most fruit categories that are usually self-sterilizing. You’ll see mention of “partially fertile” in the descriptions of these plants. it means they
), some European pears (‘Flemish Beauty’, ‘Bartlett’, ‘Anjou’ and a few others) and some apples (‘Golden Delicious’, ‘Braeburn’, ‘Granny Smith’ and others).
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But, before declaring victory, note that self-fertile varieties often produce less fruit when solitary. Yes, there are usually some successful fertilizations and even some really good years, but most of these varieties will still produce more precisely if there are other varieties nearby for cross-pollination. Therefore, if you want to have a good harvest every year, it is better to give this pair of some fertile varieties.
Etc.), they are mostly selfed, and some are actually fertile. (Different species can sometimes cross-pollinate, at least in theory, but rarely bloom at the same time, so…) Even so, you’ll usually get a better crop if you plant a second blueberry of the same type nearby . In fact, most growers recommend that you plant at least
Even if you need a second fruit tree for pollination, the two trees don’t have to be planted side by side. The usual recommendation is to plant them within 50 to 100 feet (15 to 30 meters) of each other. This means that trees on adjacent land may be close enough for you to plant just one tree.
If your favorite fruit needs pollination and you don’t have room for a second tree, there are two possible solutions:
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1. When your tree is in bloom, cut a suitable branch (you’ll need a friend to plant it) and place it in a water-filled vase at the foot of the tree. Bees will ensure that the pollen is transferred.
2. Or better yet, graft branches of different varieties (of the same species, of course, eg apple on apple, pear on pear) onto your tree. This way your tree will have pollinators every spring!
Always check with a nursery before buying a fruit tree, not only to see if the variety you’ve chosen requires a different variety to ensure pollination, but even if there are high-efficiency varieties, they can recommend to ensure pollination. Research led by Purdue University Professor Peter Hirst has shown that the pollen of some apple trees may be more suitable for pollinating high-value apples. Credit: Purdue Agricultural Communications/Tom Campbell Photos
Apple growers want to get the most out of their high-value varieties, and research from Purdue University suggests they may want to focus on apple types.
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