2012 pear brix

fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TXJanuary 31, 2013

This was my best pear year to date. Bosc and Comice took about 8 and 7 years to bear. I'm still working on harvest dates, early September seems about right for those two varieties. I'm just finishing eating Bosc, Comice, and Olympic. My favorite is probably Bosc.

Following are representative brix levels:

Housi 17
Olympic 18
Bosc 19
Comice 20
Seckel 22

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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

Thanks Fruitnut- I always love to see brix data, as it is a more quantitative measurement than "tasted great".

You data really brings home the difference that location and/or conditions can have on brix. I picked some Housi at Lyman's Orchard (south central CT) this fall and they were only around 11 brix, far below your 17. This was near the end of their season on 9/9 and quite a few had fallen off and rotted, so this was as ripe as they would get. Maybe I would actually like Asian Pears if I had one with 17-18 brix. Right now, my wife is the main consumer, but I have a couple trees at home which should start bearing soon. Do you think it is your low-water environment, the additional sun, heat, or some other factor which is most responsible for the difference?

That same day, I picked some huge Boscs at the same orchard. Depending on how long I ripened them on the counter, their brix ranged from 14 (very crunchy) to 17 (a bit too soft). The ones in between were some of the best pears I've had. How far did you ripen yours before taking these readings?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 7:47PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


Housi isn't really good at 16-17. It's Ok but not as good as the others.

I'd say lots of sun, heat, and heavy thinning can make a big difference in pear brix. I've not had anything I like at 11 brix. Even watermelon is a lot better at 14 than 11. But an 11 watermelon is eatable. Far better than a soft drink to me.

The Bosc were still firm at 19 brix but not hard. That's the hardest part of the European pears, getting the harvest, storage, and ripening right. These last Bosc are being eaten right out of the frige. So that's 4-5 months storage, about all they're good for.

I've learned thru trial and error that in my dry hot climate and somewhat droughty soil, I need to water a lot more outside than in the greenhouse. These pears were watered about 2 inches a week when the weather was hot and dry. Less water just makes smaller fruit.

This post was edited by fruitnut on Thu, Jan 31, 13 at 20:58

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 8:51PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Thanks, fruitnut. I would concur with Seckel. I can say that my Seckel this year was almost too sweet. Gosh, I can't believe I am even saying that, but it was just super, super sweet. I can see how it is the quintessential dessert pear. I look foward to comparing it to the Comice this next season.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 12:38AM
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alan haigh

Bob, your experience with Housi tells a lot about growing Asians in the northeast where they are often bland without enough sweetness. That's a reason Korean Giant does best here- as Fruitnuts research shows, it is an extra sweet one. In general, pears are not a fruit I recommend growing without optimal sun.

Seckel has always sweetened up here- it's main problem is how much the squirrels like it and having to aggressively thin it if you want fruit much larger than acorns.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 6:13AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I suspect most people leave way too much fruit on Asians. That has to affect brix at some point especially if one's climate lacks sun or heat.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:37AM
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Dear Fruitnut, what is the proper name for the instrument used to measure brix? Are they expensive? Thanks, Mrs. G

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 11:11AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Mrs. G that would be a refractometer. You can buy a satisfactory model for ~$40.

The one below is similar to mine, 0-32 brix and auto temp compensation. I'm sure their are better but I don't know which ones.

Here is a link that might be useful: refractometer

This post was edited by fruitnut on Fri, Feb 1, 13 at 11:29

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 11:21AM
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alan haigh

Fruitnut, take my word for it, up here many A. pear varieties end up bland no matter how well they are thinned as well as many E. types. The only pears the commercial growers usually grow around here are Bartlett, Bosc and Seckel.

I've never known a commercial grower here to thin Seckels and mine are much larger than what you can buy locally- more like the ones that come from Oregon.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 5:35PM
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My Korean Giant has always been sweet. I don't know the brix because I don't have a refractometer.

The tree gets sun from 10 am - the end of the day. This past summer I thinned more aggressively than previous years. The fruit were a lot bigger (the biggest one was a bit over 1.5 lbs)and sweeter, too.

My 20th century pear is also worth keeping.

I am inclined to think that Fruitnut is right that sun/heat and thinning contribute to better quality of my A. pears.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 6:06PM
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Thanks Fruitnut! Mrs. G

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 10:17PM
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alan haigh

Thinning increases the quality of all heavy bearing fruit including size and brix. To a less predictable degree quality is affected by hours of sunlight and even the strength of the sun. The strength of the sun is almost certainly a factor in the quality of many Asian pear varieties as you get up above NJ or so. Up here the only good 20th Century I've eaten get full sun and the best were against a south wall with full sun.

As Fruitnut has often pointed out- the amount of water in the ground can also be a huge factor, but it is not cut and "dry" and the question of how much water and when during development is optimal is complicated and still a subject of research. This too seems to vary from species to species to some degree.

Fruitnut have you experimented with the water to the point of giving them plenty during early development and than pulling back during last stages of ripening?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 7:03AM
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has anyone found that the rootstock used effects brix in any way? It would seem that it would.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 8:27AM
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alan haigh

Dwarfing apple rootstock assures that leaves near fruit will receive ample sun and I assume it would lead to higher brix without so much technical pruning. In commercial production guidance, dwarfing apple rootstocks are touted for helping to produce good color which should go hand in hand with higher brix.

However, dwarf rootstocks are more prone to "runting out" which is a condition of inadequate vegetative growth to support good fruit production. You need to get enough healthy leaves to make the sugar and runted out trees produce small, poorly flavored fruit.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 9:19AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


I haven't done any real research with controls and replication of treatments. What I think I've seen is a big difference between my greenhouse and outdoors. In the greenhouse water use is only about 18-20 inches a year for highest quality stone fruit. Outdoors for pome fruit and pecan it seems hard to get on enough water, probably 2-3 times as much as the greenhouse. But that includes a cover crop outdoors.

I'd think the NE would be between my greenhouse and our outdoors at about 25-30 inches water use for a shorter season.

Pears do need hot weather, like 90F, for best eating quality. The NE may lack heat as much as sun. Commercial Comice production is centered in southern OR and they say their 90F+ days in late summer are critical for quality. So in the NE the south side of a wall might be ideal for pears. Peaches, nectarine, Jap plums, pluots, grapes, figs, persimmon, and pomegranite all like 90F plus in summer. Even sweet cherries are sweeter with some heat. What does that leave you with as ideally suited in the NE, apples, apricots, and a few minor fruits?

This post was edited by fruitnut on Sat, Feb 2, 13 at 12:11

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 12:08PM
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alan haigh

Fruitnut, I think it's more than temps as we often get + 90 degree days in July and Aug and our sweetest A. pear actually ripens in Oct. The summer ones don't have the same sugar.

However, you may be right and it's all about temp, but I'll believe it when I see the research.

I never noticed a big difference in sweetness of fruit grown right by the beach in Malibu where it rarely got into the '90's over that grown inland a bit except with figs. The difference becomes apparent when you go much further up coast and there's more fog- say in Santa Cruz. That means it may be about light intensity.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 12:22PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

If you can't explain away bland pears by lack of heat then it would most likely be low light/excess crop or too much water. Excess crop is a management issue but too much water is much harder to deal with.

I thin my Housi brutally to get any kind of sweetness. I'd say I leave one pear in 30 to 40 that set, about a 12 inch spacing. That's after opening the canopy by removing half the limbs and after removing half the spurs to start the thinning operation.

This post was edited by fruitnut on Sat, Feb 2, 13 at 13:52

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 1:21PM
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alan haigh

Maybe I could get more sweetness by thinning more aggressively- I've never left that much space with any pear. I shall try it.

Thanks, FN

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 3:47PM
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