There are a few pears that produce fruit in Fairbanks. Our pears are grafted onto Pyrus ussuriensis rootstock, which is hardy to USDA Zone 2. Pears typically fruit at age 4-7 years. Pear trees typically grow into hour-glass shaped trees, so require more training than apple trees to get any tree width. Pears are attractive trees and many grow them for their beautiful blossoms, shiny leaves and fall colors.
A note about harvesting pears: Most pears will not ripen well on the tree. If left on the tree, they will start to rot from the inside. Here is some advice from Prairie Hardy Nursery:
"While the pear still hard, take notice when the skin starts changing color. This is when you can harvest them. Once harvested, store them on the kitchen counter at room temperature for up to several days or longer. To assess that your pear is ripe, apply gentle pressure on the flesh just below the stem. If it is soft but not too much, it is ready. You can place your pears in the fridge to stop them from further ripening."
A small, but good pear for eating directly off the tree. It is a prolific grower and fruiter when older. Early Gold is hardy to USDA Zone 2, and grows to about 20’ tall. Early Gold was selected from an open pollinated seed from Ure pear. Fruit is similar to Ure, but ripens 10 days earlier. Fruit is good for eating fresh and preserves.
This pear has ripened for some in Fairbanks, and it was edible, but not exciting.
Krasnobokaya photo courtesy of Bernie Nickolai, Edmonton.
It is hardy to at least USDA Zone 2, being fully hardy at our location. It grows slowly. Until proven otherwise, I consider this a pollinator for Early Gold. The following is a synopsis of a poor translation of information on the South-Ural Research Institute of Horticulture and Potato website:
From the South Ural region of Russia. A cross between ? and Zheltoplodnaya.
This variety shows strong upward growth at a young age. Branches rarely depart the trunk at right angle, but sweep to vertical quickly. Bark on the trunk and main branches of the scaly, brown. Spur fruiting variety. The leaves are large, broad, with helically twisted top, light green, wrinkled, dull. Leaf margins wavy. Petiole short, thick. The flowers are large, cup-shaped, pink, petals oval.
Fruits are medium weight (130 g), pear-shaped. The skin is soft, smooth and oily. Green at picking, when ripe greenish yellow with beautiful blurred crimson blush. The fruits are very attractive in appearance and highly-valued in Russia.
Larynskaya photo courtesy of Hardy Fruit Trees website
Originated in South-Ural Research Institute of Fruit & Vegetable Growing and Potato Growing form a cross between selected seedling of Ussuriysk pear 41-15-9 and Clapp’s Favorite. Ripen by early September. Medium sized, mass -110g (up to 140g), uniform, shortly-pyriform, uneven surface. Short, thick, aslant set stalk. Flesh is creamy, solid, juicy.
From the Hardy Fruit Trees website:
Larinskaya, Russian for ''belonging to Larin'' is not too sweet, not too tart; excellent for those who are not fans of extremely sweet pears. In flavour tests this variety received a score of 4.5 out of 5, which is very good for a hardy pear. It’s a small to medium sized fruit with a more rounded shape than the quintessential pear. In appearance it is light green with darker green spots and turns to a pale yellow as it ripens. The skin possesses a bumpy texture and is quite thick and resilient. The flesh is white, fine grained and juicy with a crisp texture. Good for fresh consumption and canning. Stores relatively well; lasting up to 8 weeks under ideal conditions.
The tree is fully hardy to Edmonton in zone 3a and worth trying up to zone 2b. A highly productive tree; yield high up to 46 kg per tree. There are no known issues with disease to this date.
This variety is the result of up to sixty years of hybridization and careful selection. It originated in Russia at the the South-Ural research institute of Fruit & Vegetable Growing and Potato Growing from a cross between selected seedlings of Ussuriysk pear 41-15-9 and Clapp’s Favorite. The authors of this cross are E.A. Falkenberg, M.A. Mazunin, and V.I. Putyatin.
Russian pear From the Bryansk region, R.S.S.R., the northern limit of pear cultivation in the U.S.S.R. Scions presented to USDA Plant Industry Station by the Moscow Experimental Station of Fruit Culture, 1963
Golden Spice is a very hardy pear with 1.75" fruit that are medium yellow with a dull-red blush and white flesh in Late August to mid September. Fruit have a sweet taste, and crisp texture and are used for fresh eating, cooking, baking and canning. These are slow growing, but have shown to be very hardy (so far). We grafted up 5 and all are still alive after 4 winters. I have heard they ripen late in Alaska, so may not have time to ripen every year.
Failures & Tests
We have tried Summercrisp, Hudar , Patten, Nova & Ure - all perished, despite being "zone 2 or 3" hardy. Golden Spice seems to be made of tougher stuff. 5 trees made it through 4 winters so far. I have hope it will make it to fruit, it does in Alberta, but that ain't Fairbanks.
Simon - The first pear to ripen in our orchard
Apostle Series Pears
Simon, Mathew, Andrew, Thomas etc. These are fast growing and also hardy to at least USDA Zone 2. Bernie Nikolai’s description of them seems pretty accurate –
“The "apostle" series, Peter, Andrew, Thomas, etc. are fully hardy in zone 3 and even zone 2, look great, produce heavily with large, good looking pears, but the only use for them is throwing at stray dogs (but not too hard, you'll kill them :) They taste like a cross between petrified wood and old, compacted sawdust.” That aside, they are reportedly OK canned or made into pear butter. They are faster growing than Krasnobokaya, and I also consider these to be pollinator varieties for Early Gold.
The Simon pears which have ripened for us seem to go quickly from hard and green to mushy, grainy and bland. Sarah thinks they are pretty good dried. Steve isn't as enthusiastic.