Pear – medicinal dessert, part of the project, “In situ/On farm Conservation and Use
of Agricultural Biodiversity in Central Asia”, implemented in Kazakhstan, with the help of Bioversity International
and UNEP-GEF. Pear trees were first grown in China. The first mention of pears
is found in Ancient China. Hence, this species is considered to be
at least 3000 years old. The ancient Greeks and Romans
also cultivated pears. The Peloponnese Peninsula was called
“Pear Country”. In India, pear trees were believed
to have human feelings. In mountainous areas of Almaty, Jambyl
and South Kazakhstan regions, pear is a reliable, highly productive
and profitable crop. Pears are highly valued,
especially during the winter. Pear trees are by far more productive
and profitable than apple trees. They yield about 20 tons of produce
per 2.5 acres annually. Pears are less frost-resistant
but more drought-resistant than apples. They have a taproot system which goes up to 10 meters deep into the soil, absorbing water and nutrients
from deeper sources and nourishing the plant. Pears can be successfully cultivated in the mountains of Southeast Kazakhstan
without artificial irrigation. Pears have excellent taste
and contain sugars, acids, vitamins, pectic and tannic compounds
and other substances that can be used to treat diabetes and fever
or as a diuretic. Pears can be consumed fresh, processed,
candied, dried, as jam and juice. Winter pear varieties are especially valued as they prolong the period
when fresh fruits can be consumed. Pears are the second most popular fruit crop
after apples. Although not as popular as apples,
pears have many advantages. Firstly, they do not have a tendency
to alternate bearing. They are more resistant to pests
and even diseases such as fungal rot and scab. Pear trees can cope with poor soil conditions
better than apple trees because their root system is strong,
going deep into the soil. Extensive roots allow for more soil coverage, so the tree can get
enough water and nutrition. Pear trees can grow on any kinds of soil, except soils with high water table,
gravel or sandy soils. Pear trees grow well in dark, fertile soil,
especially in the mountains, such as the upper and lower mountainous areas
of Almaty region and lower Dzungarian Alatau mountain range. Pears prefer moderate and southern climates. They like sunlight, heat
and can tolerate drought. But they don’t do well in hot dry air. When irrigated, they yield
high-quality produce. Pear trees grow up to 4-6 meters. They are rather long-lived. On average, pears grafted onto a seedling
rootstock live around 70 years; pears grafted onto clonal quince rootstock – 30 years. In the south, there are local pear tree
varieties aged over 200 years. Pear trees live longer than other fruit trees. They also tend to produce more fruit over time, as a pear tree gets older,
its harvest gets better. In this garden, we study pear genetic diversity which totals to about 617 varieties. Pear breeding is not as well-established
and diverse as apple breeding, but we’ve managed to develop
many good Kazakh pear varieties, such as Zhazdyk, Nagima, Bostandyk. They have a number of good qualities,
such as resistance to frost. Pears are regarded as large trees
that take a while to mature. However, our new pear varieties mature earlier. They are also resistant to frost, and have great taste that
meets European standards. Pears come into bearing
6-8 years after planting. Pear variety “Lesnaya Krasavitsa”
grows in the mountains of Almaty region and can yield up to 450 tons of produce
per 2.5 acres. In central Ile Alatau, pears are cultivated at up to 1500 meters above sea level. Unlike apple trees,
pear trees have better-formed crowns and require less pruning. Pruning is also more traumatic for pear trees. Pruning is somewhat like an art form. It is impossible to find
two identical trees in a garden, so it is always something new. Let’s look at this pear tree. The crown is too dense here,
too many underbranches. First, we’ll cut down the central leader. Here it is – the highest upright branch,
going straight from the bole. That way, we’ll even out the weight
onto the side branch. Then we prune it into a vase shape. This is the best shape for a fruit tree. It allows the tree to capture more sunlight. Now let’s get rid of all the excess branches
that make the crown too dense. Here we go. Now our crown is sparser. Now we have a first tier of branches, a second tier of branches, and this will be the last tier of branches. Anything that sprouts higher shall be pruned,
as it is not needed. This crown is well balanced. All sides have strong scaffold branches. The angle of the branches is excellent. It is about 60 degrees, which is almost ideal, because when the tree is covered in fruits branches will sag down to 90 degrees. The fruiting will not be interrupted. We need to get rid of all the branches
curving towards the trunk. We also prune anything that grows up. This way, the tree will get more sunlight. Pear trees are far more profitable than apple trees. They are very productive, yielding about 20 tons of produce
per 2.5 acres annually. It is because they cast off
excess flower buds and seed buds on time, so there are always enough nutrients
to form fruit buds. Pear is not just a tasty fruit, but also a valuable medicinal plant. Pears contain B vitamins
that strengthen vessel walls, dehydrocholic acid which is a choleretic, vitamins A and C, glucose,
fructose, sucrose, organic acids, coloring and flavoring substances,
pectic acid and enzymes. Fresh pears can be used as a dietary supplement for kidney dysfunction,
ulcers, and high blood pressure. Here in the nursery,
we constantly study local pear varieties. We check their resistance
to frost and diseases. We select the most promising varieties, send them for state quality testing, and make them available
for amateur gardeners. Pears have long been overlooked. However, nowadays, more gardeners
start growing pears, because they are less demanding
and produce more fruit than apples. They have great taste
and can be sold for more. We are used to thinking of apples
as the best fruit crop, and it is hard to change this stereotype. However pears clearly have many advantages. Many Western European varieties
are more sappy and succulent, taste and look better, but they are not as frost-resistant. The variety “Talgarskaya Krasavitsa”” which was selected by
our plant breeder Arkady Katseiko is very productive and resistant to cold. It is a real queen of our pear gardens! No other variety has such high productivity. But its taste could do with some improvement. We use it for breeding other varieties, due to its frost resistance,
high-quality fruit and productivity. From this variety,
we’ve already developed some new ones, such as Zhazdyk and Nagima. They are as frost resistant
as “Talgarskaya Krasavitsa”, but taste much better. Pear tree bark is thicker
than apple tree bark, and thus protects it well
from physical and weather damage. But it needs to be cleaned regularly
from moss and lichens. Tree base and scaffold branches
must be white-washed. Incorrect pruning
can damage the tree greatly. Smooth cuts heal faster, while any remaining stubs
would constantly attract pests and diseases. Applying organic fertilizer in autumn
is vital for rich harvest. Summer pruning is an important part
of pear cultivation. It is performed annually
from late May to mid-August. Pear trees are usually tall. Their growth can be limited
not only by crown reduction pruning, but also by summer pruning. It is easier to perform
and less harmful for the tree. Summer pruning prevents
the growth of new shoots which would make the crown more dense. Summer pruning consists of cutting new shoots, removing about one third of their length. For pear trees, that would be enough, as their shoots grow slower
than those of apple trees. We need to cut all the buds,
overgrown twigs and side shoots. This way, we allow more light in, and the tree crown does not grow too high. It also facilitates fruit harvesting
and tree care. The water sprouts inside the tree crown
have to be cut completely. Summer pruning is far less harmful
than winter pruning. But foliar feeding is still needed to make up for the foliage loss. It’s better to fertilize the soil as well. Pear trees like this one need at least 100L of humate-based mineral fertilizer per year. Summer pruning is performed 3 times
within the growing season, so humate-based fertilization
should also be done 3 times. Preventing the growth of one-year old shoots
can free up nutrients needed for the formation of fruit buds
and fruit maturation. As a result, we get a short tree
that produces a lot of pears, for a constant, high-quality harvest
and a healthy garden.