Pruning your mature pear tree improves fruit quality and tree health; trees that are neglected will produce few (and poor quality) pears. Gardeners should prune the pear tree annually late in winter or early in spring, when frost danger passes. While young trees are pruned primarily for shaping, older trees are pruned to remove undesirable wood, open up the tree canopy to light and air and direct the growth of the tree.
Locate any dead, diseased or damaged wood on your mature pear tree. Diseased or damaged wood will be discolored, scarred, wounded or bear growths. Dead wood remains still when the wind blows. Removing this wood keeps your pear tree healthy.
Cut off unhealthy and dead wood at its base or by pruning back to a healthy Y-intersection. Discard all scrap wood in a garbage bin to keep disease out of your garden. In between cuts, spray your tools with disinfectant spray to prevent from spreading disease to healthy parts of the tree. Use anvil pruners for small cuts and lopping shears for thick cuts 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter.
Trim off suckers that grow from the tree's trunk or from old pruning cuts. This vegetative growth will never bear fruit and saps energy from the tree.
Cut off downward-growing branches or low branches that impede movement under the tree. Also remove limbs that crisscross other limbs, since their rubbing will cause damage. Removing this wood opens up the tree canopy to light and air circulation, which can keep the tree healthy.
Trim the tips of long branches with your anvil pruners. Cut them back to a Y-intersection or a swollen tissue on your branch.
Remove up to one-third of the old wood in a given year to continue opening up the tree canopy to light and air. Choose old wood since it produces fewer pears, and then remove branches from crowded areas, weak growth or wood that grows vertically up.