Pear trees were introduced to Oregon in the 1800s and today they are an important part of the state's economy. Oregon and Washington are home to over 1,600 pear orchards, and Oregon's pear production is third in the United States. In fact, the pear is Oregon's state fruit. Reasons for pruning pear trees in Oregon are the same as for all pear trees. You will prune to: remove dead, diseased or broken branches; to train and create the correct structure, which promotes maximum fruiting; and to remove harmful suckers. Pruning should be done in late summer, with the exception of removing any dead, diseased or broken branches, and suckers. This can be done at any time.
Prune any diseased, dead, or damaged branches immediately. You will make your pruning cut at the breaking point of the branch, or you can remove the entire branch. (This is a judgement call on your part.) Be sure to make a clean cut, as clean cuts allow the tree to heal correctly. You can do this at any time.
Inspect the pear tree in late summer in order to determine what if any branches need to be pruned in order to create and control the required structure of the pear tree. The correct structure consists of five to seven scaffold limbs with a 45-degree angle crotch. Creating this structure begins when the tree is young. The 45-degree angle crotch is necessary so that the limbs will be able to take the weight of the fruiting branches.
Locate the branch collar (this is on the underside of the branch where it connects to the trunk) and the branch bark ridge (this is on the topside of the branch where it connects to the trunk) on any branch or branches that need to be pruned. You will make your pruning cut in front of the branch bark ridge and the branch collar. Both the branch bark ridge and the branch collar should remain intact when pruning (to maintain the integrity and health of the pear tree).
Inspect the crown of the tree in late summer for density. A dense crown does not let sunlight in and decreases air circulation. A dense crown will need to be thinned out. Again, this is a judgment call--thin the crown of the tree by cutting out select branches.
Remove suckers (suckers are shoots/branches that grow at the bottom of the trunk or up from the roots). Do this as soon as you see them, as suckers use up nutrients that should be going to the tree.