Asian Pear Varieties

chills71(Zone 6b Mi)January 9, 2007

I'm looking through sites and catalogs planning my plantings for this year and I know I want an Asian Pear, but I am not 100% sure what one.

YOINASHI is said to have a butterscotch flavor, but I have also read that its flavor is disliked by some people.

CHOJURO is said to have a mild butterscotch flavor (it is also said to have a rum-like flavor).

I am looking for opinions from people who have either tasted either or both of these fruit and/or have grown them. How do they taste, are either more disease prone or other issues with either or Asian pears in general? I've already got a European Pear so I'm not worried about pollenation (pollenization) problems.

Unfortunately its not like I can run out to the store and buy them to try them, but that's part of the appeal of growing one's own fruit (trying something unavailable locally).


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swvirginiadave(z6 VA)

My experience here in the mountains of South West VA zone 6a
(caution: your experience may vary, etc. As with any fruit, individual fruits can vary on the same tree, picking time and weather affect flavor.)

Hosui: Ripens early to mid September. Subject to freeze damage if left on the tree during a light freeze. Have had to deal with fireblight but has not been difficult to control. Has a relatively coarse russeted peel, so I always peel them before eating. Sweet, very juicy, and relatively subtle in flavor. Most people who've tried mine were very complimentary. I think they're a bit bland but I tend to like more strongly flavored fruit in general.

Korean Giant (Olympic) a.k.a. Starking Hardy Giant: Ripens late September to mid October. Not injured by a light freeze. Hasn't been bothered by fireblight. Sweet, a bit more "butterscotchy" than Hosui, not quite as juicy. Peel is smoother than Hosui--can eat it peeled or not, but I prefer peeled. Keeps well in the fridge although can start to soften. Also gets high praise from friends and family.

Chojuro: My first fruit this past season. Richest flavor of the three. Again, sweet but less juicy than Hosui. My favorite for flavor so far, but my family prefers the other two. No info on storage or freeze damage--not enough to try. Haven't seen fireblight on it yet.

I hope to get 20th Century if the fireblight doesn't get it again and maybe Shinko fruiting this year.

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2007 at 7:59AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I only had Shinko fruit so far. It was very sweet and with the classic asian pear flavor. There was no bad flavor in the skin, I just wanted to eat the whole thing. No butterscotch flavor there, a bit of rum flavor when very ripe.

I have several other varieties which look like they have flower buds on now so I should have more experience soon.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2007 at 10:26AM
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I love my Asians. Have had some fireblight problems, but no more so than in my Europeans - and less than in some apples. Thinning is a must in order to get fruit to size well.
I've got 4 that have been fruiting for 5 or 6 years; another half-dozen varieties that hopefully will fruit for the first time this coming season.
Chojuro - hands-down, my favorite. Beautiful fruit, seems not to need thinning nearly so badly as the others, and yes, it does have a butterscotch undertone. I'll probably be grafting additional trees of this one.
Shinko(Singo)- a close second, heavy bearer, good-sized pears with good flavor.
Korean Giant(Don Bae) - has been a major disappointment for me. Everyone raves about this one, but in my orchard, it's been a non-performer; a fireblight magnet(I think it succumbed totally, this year), but even when it was healthy, it would only set a very small number of fruits(like 2 or 3, when its neighbors would have 50-100) - and yes, they got BIG, but they were juicy, flavorless fruits. So...mileage may vary.
Niitaka - sets heavy crops - unless you thin heavily, you end up with 5 or 6 pingpong ball-size fruits at every blossom cluster. Hailstorm this past spring 'thinned' for me, so the fruits sized reasonably well, but I was not especially impressed with the flavor.

Looking forward to (hopefully) sampling Hosui, Tsu Li, Dasui Li, Shin Li, Ya Li, Shinseiki, and Olton Broussard this year, if I'm fortunate. Grafted Bong Ri and Yoinashi last year, but know little, if anything, about them.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2007 at 10:43AM
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I have been growing Chojuro, Shinseiki, and 20th Century (Nijiseiki) for over 20 years. Back in those days, I think I was buying the trees from Miller's Nursery, although one may have been from Stark.

Of the three, I would agree with the others that Chojuro has the edge on flavor, although it is a close call. It's hard for me to taste the butterscotch. Chojuro has a russet brown skin that is quite beautiful, but the other two have a clear yellow skin that is pretty too. None of my asian pears have ever suffered fireblight or any other disease, although I have had serious outbreaks on apple trees right nearby. I have concluded that the fireblight strains that affect these species must be different, and I had one but not the other. There have been occasional signs of plum curculio on the fruits, which tends to distort their shape, but the trees set so heavily that these can be clipped off leaving plenty behind. I thin the fruits on these trees repeatedly, choosing the largest undamaged fruits. With radical thinning, some of the 20th Century pears have reached one pound. These fruits are very dense and heavy, laden with sugar when ripe, which suggests another reason for heavy thinning -- branch breakage. As they become very sweet, they are subject to attacks by wasps and hornets, particularly the large European hornets that can hollow out the fruits leaving only the skin behind. Bagging or a light spray with Sevin, which is very effective against wasp type insects, can prevent this.

I don't know about these guys Lucky and Dave planting more and more of these things. I keep my three remaining trees pruned down to about 12 feet (I lost one full dwarf Chojuro on OH x F333), but they still produce bushels of fruits that to me seem to lack versatility. Their only use seems to be fresh eating, although they will keep in refrigeration for more than 6 weeks to spread that out. Some of my neighbors like them very much, but it gets to the point where I can hardly give more away. I tried blending some into the apple cider (juice, really) but their sweet nature only made the cider more insipid. And, I have to say, I really prefer the more fruity flavor of European pears to any of the Asians, even for fresh eating. Soon enough, Lucky and Dave will be hauling these things out of their orchards by the pickup load.

So I think you are doing the right thing by starting with only one tree. If you have other European pears around they will cross-pollinate with the Asians, so you should have no trouble on that score. Rarity seems make anything more appreciated, and you might end up really liking your Asian pears. Finally, though it is a very close call, I would have to vote for 20th Century if planting only one tree. They are extraordinarly beautiful things, and if you thin over and over again you can produce grand champion size fruits.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   January 10, 2007 at 1:14PM
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The Asians dehydrate quite nicely to make pear chips.
They make a first-rate pear pie.
Our buddy Joe Real makes a dynamite pear wine with his 20th Century pears.

I dunno, maybe if I'm overrun with 'em I'll haul 'em in to the local farmer's market. Thus far, my 4 bearing age trees can't produce more than my family will eat.
Rotten or damaged fruits, I can always pitch over the fence to the cows & horses.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2007 at 2:45PM
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pitangadiego(San Diego, CA)

Tsu Li, Ya Li, Hosui and Kikisui have all been great.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2007 at 8:44PM
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I was funning a little bit when I talked about hauling pears out in pickups. But there is no doubt these trees can be very productive when they reach maturity. In my case, moreso than any of the apples.

The rest boils down pretty much to a matter of taste. I prefer fruits that have got a little acidity, which I equivalate to flavor. Of course, you can pick Asian pears a little sooner and they are not quite so sweet. And there may be varieties that have more flavor than the particular three I have.

I have been drying fairly large quantities of fruit for many years, mostly apples. These are distributed to children, grandchildren and the occasional neighbor. Drying fruit is a time-consuming task, and a labor of love. I sure don't do it for the money. Two years ago, the Asian pear crop was very large, so I dried quite a few, and distributed them through the usual channels. After the first deliveries, demand pretty much dried up. They just didn't have the flavor of dried apples, and, given the time and labor involved, I won't be drying any more of them.

For piemaking, we have blueberries, cherries, apples, peaches, raspberries, rhubarb, and the occasional apricots. Again, it's a matter of taste, but I don't want to wear out my piemaker by asking her to use fruit that is sweet but doesn't have much real flavor.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   January 11, 2007 at 12:44AM
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swvirginiadave(z6 VA)

Lucky: You're going to have to tell us your Asian pear pie recipe. I would have thought they couldn't work in a pie.

Don: I guess you have a point, but this isn't an entirely rational enterprise. I'm more concerned about all the pruning, etc. I'm getting myself into as I keep acquiring new trees than I am about the excess fruit. Which is one reason why I'm trying to do more multigrafted trees. By the way, people like you are part of the problem, you know! I had given up on apricots until you talked about Tomcots in another thread. So now I've got a Tomcot on order and I'll have to figure out where to put the thing.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2007 at 7:34AM
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You just substitute pear for apple in any good apple pie recipe.

Don and I have been through this over and over, for years. I've got a laissez-faire(or, lazy-faire, is probably more like it!) style of orchard management. I went WAY overboard planting apples when I first started out - but I don't have the time or inclination to do even the minimal essential spraying, and minimal pruning as well. Over the past 10 years or so, it's become more than evident that any prospect of getting any significant amount of fruit - even scabby, worm-infested things, from most of the apples is a lost cause; I'll bet that, other than from my edible crabs(which bear nicely), I've harvested less than a hundred apples from the fifty or so trees I planted over the first 4 or 5 years. But pears! They require almost no care! Other than pruning out the occasional fireblight hits, they produce beaucoup mostly perfect fruits with no spray, and minimal pruning.
Yes, I like a good tart apple, but I also like a good crisp, juicy pear. So...most of my apples are on borrowed time, and I've pulled out more than a few and replaced them with pears. I keep saying I'm not going to graft or plant any more apples, but recent discussions on Pixie Crunch have me thinking about trying it.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2007 at 10:41AM
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I would like to know where to order a singo korean pear tree.



    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 4:13PM
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Sure enjoy this thread. Asian pears have been such a great investment for me. Yoinashi and Shinseiki give us all we need. Have the Spaulding as regular. Any we do not eat fresh, I freeze by coring and 1/2" dicing-NO peeling. Stir them with some maple syrup and brown sugar and freeze in two cup amts in zip lock sand bags. Stack in a half gallon milk or icecream carton(rectangle best). Top with piece of compressed packing plastic (can't recall the exact name). Freeze. I often use them with apples, blueberries, razzberries or apricots for cobblers and pies-or we just eat a packet with milk for a dessert. Delicious. You all have me thinking about grafting on my trees-just to see what happens to the mixed pollination. In my blueberry patch, I have noted that when I plant a Friendship(the best flavored terrific pollinator I have) near any of the other varieties( I have 15), the production is enhanced and the flavor seems richer than before. Seems like synergy occurs as the Friendship is always referred to as a short bush with med berries-but mine is 5-6' tall(extremely vigorous) and has lots of small berries. So now, I need more asian pear varieties to increase info. cella jane KY/6

    Bookmark   January 29, 2007 at 12:50PM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

Hopefully this year, more than half of my grafted pears will bear fruits, after that round of arctic blast, this would more or less synchronize the blooming of all my pears.

But from memory, the best asian pears from my yard would be
chojuro, then hosui, then shinko, followed by Ya Li, Seuri, then hardy Korean Giant (disappointing number of small fruits!), shinseiki, and last would be 20th century. The rankings in taste slightly vary year to year.

If you think some of your Asian pears taste insipid, try this recipe of mine. Juice out 6 Eureka lemons (normal size from stores), mix with 1 gallon ice cold water, 3 cups sugar, and then core out your asian pears and slice them and soak in the mixture at least 2 hours before serving. Place some ice or in the fridge. Fish out the sliced fruits or drain and serve. Any insipid, bland tasting Asian pears would come to life and be the hit of the party. I do this with my Shinseiki and 20th century pears, or any pear that has loads of fruits that don't taste as well when eaten fresh. And worst comes to worst, if I have an overabundance, I turn them to wine. Nothing gets wasted, except for the worm infested one and they get recycled in my compost heap where these fruit worms will die.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2007 at 4:16AM
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Help! I have a productive organic orchard with multiple varieties of trees. Lucky enough to have a wild hive on the property! My 14 year old European is a heavy producer. The neighboring grafted Asian now barely flowers. Te most fruit ever was three or for in the early years.

Suggestions? Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 12:29PM
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I assume your ranking is by taste rather than other tree characteristics.

I'll have to try Chojuro, because so far Hosui has been my favorite followed by Kosui. I've probably tried 6-10 other varieties that I didn't like enough to ever buy again.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 12:44PM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

Yes, my ranking is based purely on taste. When you have 40-varieties of pears in one tree, I don't think you will be able to characterize that tree properly. Except only perhaps which is vigorous over which stock.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 2:08PM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

[Help! I have a productive organic orchard with multiple varieties of trees. Lucky enough to have a wild hive on the property! My 14 year old European is a heavy producer. The neighboring grafted Asian now barely flowers. Te most fruit ever was three or for in the early years.
Suggestions? Thanks!]

Organicgrower: is that the only Asian Pear variety in bloom at that time? Perhaps you needed suitable pollinator that blooms along with it. Most likely, it is a high chill type of pear, from the few flowers you describe. Parts of Marin County receive far less chilling hours than us here in the inland. So you can try low-chill Asian pears.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 2:12PM
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swvirginiadave(z6 VA)

It's curious that both Joe in CA and Lucky in Kentucky have had such poor performance by Korean giant relative to the others. Mine has been quite the opposite--heavy bearer and large fruit and, thus far, disease free. It's hard to credit the environment since Joe's and Lucky's climates are so different. Is it possible there's more than one clone of this out there? I bought mine from Stark Bros ("Starking Hardy Asian Giant") maybe ten years so ago.

By the way if anyone would like to trade scionwood, I'd like to get Yoinashi, Tsu Li and just about any others I don't have.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 7:45AM
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geraldo(Cent. WA z6b)

Yes, my Dan Bai or Olympic or Arirang or whatever you call them are very productive. Yoinashi is a patented variety and the rights are owned by Fowler Nursery of California. My fave is Hosui, hands down. Chojuro was disappointing.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 8:34AM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

Maybe this year it will be very productive due to the Arctic Blasts that we had. Even the Ledbetter pear seemed to develop some fruiting spurs that are beginning to swell. Perhaps not only do we need chilling temps on these cultivars to be productive, but a certain freezing period may trigger some hormonal reactions. The last few years were really relatively warmer when the Korean Giant performed all so poorly, though our Chilling hours accumulation were at least 1,000 hrs during those warmer winters.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 9:03AM
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Everything I could find regarding Yoinashi suggests it is not patented and several nurseries sell it as unpatented. However, the name is trademarked by Fowler Nursery. So if this is the case, you can propagate it, but you can't sell it under the name Yoinashi without a license from Fowler.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 12:30PM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

Yoinashi as far as I know is NOT PATENTED, it is only TRADEMARKED. If indeed it is patented, then Patent No. usually follows it, just like how Zaiger genetics list their varieties. The trademark of the name is entirely a different beast than a patent for the plant. Patented plants cannot be propagated asexually, budding, grafting, rooting, tissue culture, BUT by all means you can derive genetic manipulations, breeding and hybridization with them as a means to propagate.

As long as you don't sell the pear as Yoinashi, you should be okay, unless someone here can publish the Plant Patent Number for Yoinashi that we can confirm.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 12:50PM
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Wow, just what I was looking for, a discussion on Asian pears. My dilemma is that the only two (without mail order) available in my area are the Hosui and the 20th Century.
From what I have read it looks like the Chojuro is the most favored for taste, but I have run out of time to order bare root.
Considering taste and hardiness, which one would you, choose?
Joe, If you can believe it , I lost a kumquat tree to two back to back 25 degree freezes but all other citrus did well. I have another kumquat that is doing well so this pear will replace the one that I lost.
Thanks Karl

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 1:48PM
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thistle5(z7 VA)

My local nursery has some trees that have 3 varieties (Hosui, 20th Century, Shinseki)grafted on 1 tree, trained as an espalier. I'd love to add this to my yard, but I'm not sure if the best location I have for it is suitable-I have a 19' fence that runs from the back of my garage to my neighbors' yard, N/E to S/W, pretty good morning sun, but the houses shade it from direct southern exposure, it's kind of sheltered, but it is also on a slight slope-I wonder if the tree would look wrong here?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 4:08PM
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geraldo(Cent. WA z6b)

Yes, trademarked and not patented. My bad.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 7:25PM
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Jorel - Thanks for the reply. My tree is a five variety asian. How do I prune it? Would that make a difference?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2007 at 10:02PM
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Any help out there for my grafted Asian? It's about 10 years old, looks vigerous but has produced little fruit. Now it hardly blossoms. Am I prunning incorrectly or what? My Eruopean does fine.... Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2007 at 10:29PM
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joereal(Ca z9/SS z14)

Organicgrower, I'm not Jorel. I have a friend whose name is Jorel and is not online in this forum. But since no one answered, I would assume that it would be me, JoeReal.

You will have to prune your tree different ways from now on. Prune during the late summer. First thin out the overcrowding or cross over branches. Then cut back half the length of most vigorous end twigs or limbs at each of the remaining major branches, for the non-vigorous limbs, pinch off 3 inches from the tip. This is to encourage spurs on the branches which hopefully become flower buds the next season. If you know how to do bark inversion, do it on your major trunk in the late summer, and make sure to cover the inverted bark properly with sealant. Bark inversion encourages bigger fruits, and you won't need to prune your tree for about 4 years yet it will bloom more and have bigger fruits.

If you are not into organics, I would have recommended application of fertilizers high in K. If you are doing the organic way, one way you can do this is to apply wood ashes (sparingly, else they will turn your soil basic) and compost.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2007 at 11:06AM
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