Oriental and Asian pear tree varieties grow across Texas with ease, but in the southern regions of the state the tree often does not receive adequate chill hours to produce fruit. European pear tree varieties have difficulty growing in most parts of Texas due to their high susceptibility to fire blight, which occurs in the region. The western-most area of the state can sustain European pear trees because the small location is relatively free of fire blight infections.
The soil in Texas is made up mostly of clay or heavy loam soils. The pear tree will tolerate the soil if it has good drainage. In areas of the state with a high alkaline content within the soil the tree may suffer from cotton root rot and iron deficiency, known as chlorosis. If the soil suffers from an iron deficiency the gardener can add applications of iron chelate to the soil. If the soil contains cotton root rot there is no treatment, and it can kill the pear tree, according to the Texas A & M University.
Avoid planting pear trees in low-lying areas of of the state. Planting along streams or in low valleys will often subject the pear tree to an early frost which can destroy its blossoms and fruit production. The tree prefers a location that offers morning sunlight. Plant pear trees in the winter months or early spring in Texas.
Rootstock for the State
Pear trees grown in Texas should be grafted onto Pyrus calleryana rootstock for best results. The root stock offers superior drought resistance. Texas pear trees grafted to Old Home pear rootstock also do well. Both rootstocks help to produce a full-sized tree with a long life expectancy. Standard rootstock is slow to grow, and the tree will not begin producing fruit until it reaches 8 years of age. Dwarfing rootstocks are currently being tested in the state to see how well they do.
Oriental hybrid pear trees are the most widely planted in Texas because of their excellent fire blight resistance. Warren, Ayres and Magness pear trees grow well across the state, according to the Texas A & M University. Asian pear varieties are still new in the state and being tested. Most offer moderate to fair fire blight tolerance. Pear trees are not self-fertile and require a pollinator to set fruit. Plant two pear trees approximately 40 feet apart to assure pollination occurs.
Harvest maturity in Texas normally occurs from August to September. The Oriental and European pear varieties do not ripen on the tree but must be picked and then allowed to ripen slowly. If the harvest is delayed in Texas, the fruit will still drop even though it has not reached ripeness. The few pears that remain on the tree will become overly ripe and lack flavor. The fruit is ready for harvest when the greenish skin of the fruit begins to turn yellow.
Fire blight is a serious problem in Texas. It causes the leaves, buds and blossoms to turn black and die. The tree can suffer serious damage and a few varieties will quickly perish under the diseases onslaught. Infected branches must be pruned out of the tree promptly. Spraying with streptomycin or copper fungicides is beneficial and will help to save the tree. Spraying on a recommended schedule will help the tree to still produce fruit.