Connecticut Garden Journal: Asian Pears
Asian pears have become popular for their pear-like flavor with an apple-like texture. This pear was developed in China, but spread to Japan and Korea and now is grown around the world. We love the crispness of the fruit and the delicious, sweet, pear flavor.
We grow a few different varieties of Asian pears. 'Twentieth Century' has a yellow skin, soft flesh and mild flavor. We really like the brown-skinned varieties, such as 'Shinsui'. This is an early maturing brown, skinned variety that is very productive. If fire blight disease is a problem on your pear and apple trees try resistant varieties such as 'Shinko'.
Grow Asian pears as you would European pear varieties. They like full sun on well-drained, loamy soil. I found ours grow okay in clay soil as long as the soil doesn't stay too wet in spring and we plant in raised beds to promote better water drainage.
The trees can grow to 30 feet tall in a pyramidal shape, but ours are staying a more manageable 15 feet. Asian pears need two different varieties for cross pollination, but you can also get pollination from European or ornamental pear trees.
Fire blight may be an issue on some varieties and there's always aphids and psyllids that can cause problems on the leaves. These insects are controlled by lady bugs and insecticidal soap sprays. My biggest problems are squirrels and birds eating the ripening fruits. Baffles around the tree trunks helps deter squirrels, while netting keeps birds away. Usually we get so many pears that we don't mind sharing some with the wildlife.