Usually grown in cool to colder climates, pear trees come in in many varieties, from the familiar Anjou and Bartlett varieties, to the more crisp, apple-like Asian varieties. The more common pears are referred to as European (Pyrus communis) varieties and are bell-shaped, while the Asian (Pyrus pyrifolia) varieties are round and have rough skin. Like other tree fruit, pears require a set number of hours during which temperatures must be below 45 degrees Fahrenheit to properly set.
This European pear variety is common in grocery stores and the fruit is medium-sized with yellow skin and juicy, sweet flavor. The Anjou pear tree grows upright to 40 feet and is a consistent producer. Pears ripen late, usually in the fall. Anjou pear trees require 800 to 900 hours of chill time. This variety is susceptible to fireblight.
Another pear easily found at the grocery story, the Bartlett is also a European variety, but the fruit is shorter and sweeter than its Anjou cousin. Bartlett pears may have a red blush on the skin and the flesh is tender. Bartlett pear trees, which grow to about 35 feet, bear fruit in mid-summer, require up to 1,000 hours of chill time. This variety is also susceptible to fireblight.
An Asian pear hybrid, the Kieffer pear is oval with green skin that may have a red blush. Not the best eating pear, Kieffers may be gritty and are often used in baking. But this pear can be grown in the South, as it requires only 250 hours of chill time to properly set fruit. Kieffer pear trees produce fruit in the fall and are resistant to fireblight.