How to Grow Pear Trees in Iowa

Overview

Although pears will grow in all areas of Iowa, the cold winters prevent the most familiar supermarket varieties from doing well in any of the state's plant hardiness zones. Fire-blight also threatens pear trees in this northern area, and this combination of challenges makes variety selection the most important decision. Selecting disease-resistant trees known to produce well in the local area enhances chances of success for the home pear grower in Iowa.

Step 1

Plant cold-hardy and fire-blight resistant pear cultivars such as Ambrosia, Delicious, Maxine and Moonglow, as recommended by Iowa State University.

Step 2

Plant more than one variety of pear tree since most cultivars do not self-pollinate, although some varieties, such as Parker and Patten, will bear small crops if no other type grows nearby.

Step 3

Plant on a site that has fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of about 6.5. Plant pear trees in locations with protection from winter winds. Plant on slopes rather than in low-lying frost basins.

Step 4

Spray pear trees regularly during the growing season with general purpose insecticide and fungicide. Spray as many as 10 times per year if necessary to keep the pear trees disease- and insect-free. Follow the label instructions for dosage.

Step 5

Prune pear trees each winter, training the trees to a ladder structure for best air circulation and distribution of sunlight within the canopy. Thin the fruiting limbs by as much as 1/3 of the total canopy to produce strong limbs and healthy trees.

Tips and Warnings

  • Keep the orchard weed-free and mowed to control insects. Use caution when mowing or trimming around pear trees, since even mature trees wound easily if bumped by machinery or cutting line. Bark wounds expose the tree to infection and attack by insects. Two varieties of cold-hardy pears popular in the northern states cannot be used as pollination partners. Gourmet and Luscious pears, developed in South Dakota, release sterile pollen and should be grown in company with two other fertile varieties. Fungal diseases attack leaves and fruit. The pear sawfly, common in Iowa, skeletonizes leaves of pear trees but rarely kills trees outright.

Things You'll Need

  • Fire-blight resistant pear trees
  • Pressure tank pump sprayer
  • Insecticide
  • Fungicide
  • Limb loppers
  • Pruning shears

References

  • Iowa State University Extension: Suggested Pear and Stone Fruit Varieties for Home Gardens in Iowa
  • University of Minnesota: Apples and Pears in Minnesota Home Gardens
  • Iowa State University Extension: Backyard Orchards Require Planning Ahead

Who Can Help

  • Iowa Source: Pears, the Fallen Aristocrats; Kurt Michael Friese; October 2007
Keywords: cold hardy pears, iown pears, plant pears

About this Author

James Young began writing as a military journalist in Alaska and combat correspondent in Vietnam. He specializes in electronics, turnery, blacksmithing, outdoor sports, woodcarving, joinery and sailing. Young's articles have been published in "Tai Chi Magazine," "Sonar 4 Ezine," "The Marked Tree," "Stars & Stripes," the "SkinWalker Files" and "Fine Woodworking."