I would like to plant Asian pears (also known as apple pears). Do they do well in North Alabama? From what I read they are very susceptible to fire blight. Anyone here have experience with this fruit?
You may want to take a trip down to Petals from the Past in Jemison, just south of Birmingham, and talk with Dr Powell or at least give them a call. They grow as well as sell quite a few there and would be able to tell you which ones do best in North Alabama. I've also included a link which has a paper in wrote on the subject.
Hope this helps,
Here is a link that might be useful: Asian Pear Culture in Alabama
I live in N. AL and I am currently growing Chojuro, Hosui, Shinseiki and Shinko Asian pears. Both of my Hosui have been badly infected with fireblight. I had to cut them down - a foot above the root graft. Both survived, and are flourishing now but I imaging fireblight will eventually get them. The Shinseiki has been my best and most vigorious grower, followed by the Shinko. My chojuro has done fine but is a slow grower. None of them have been damaged by fireblight. I have on order to buy some Korean Giants and Yonashi pears this fall. I think both has some resistance to fireblight.
I would tend to stay away from fireblight susceptible varieties such as the Hosui in the southeast. The Hosui does much better in dryer climates such as in the pacific coast.
Classical Fruits, at Moulton - I'm not sure they're still in business - used to offer Korean Giant, Hosui, Early Asian, Shinko, and Shinseiki
Chojuro is my fave; Shinko has been very good here; Ya Li has been a standout the last couple of years, though I see that the AU Extension folks don't recommend it for north AL. Hosui, as others have attested, is FB-susceptible; Korean Giant was a FB cripple here, and never produced more than 2 or 3 fruits per year - big, watery, tasteless things - most folks rave about KG, but it was a 'dog' for me.
My experience (going on 6 years) with Asian pears on the western edge of the North Carolina Piedmont (which is probably pretty comparably to north Alabama) is that Asian pears do great, fruit early, and produce largely perfect fruits without any sprays at all and very little fuss of any other sort, but I did lose one tree last year to fireblight, a supposedly fireblight-resistant Shinko. I have two other Shinkos which are still doing very well, plus two Korean Giants and a younger Shinseiki. I would be afraid of any varieties that were relatively more fireblight susceptible, but I'd definitely recommend Asian pears. As for taste, I've really like them all. Korean Giant might be a slight favorite, and I've also tried Hosuis from a farmers' market vendor.
Just an update. We were hit by a late freeze this year and did not have any fruit develop on my Asian pear tree. All my trees are young. The oldest ones have only been in the ground for 3 years. This past fall, I planted 70 Korean Giants and 30 Yoinashi. All survived except for one. My Shinko and Shinseiki are doing great. I think I would have had fruit if it wasn't for the late frost. From what a farmer told me, it has been almost 30 years since we had such a harsh and late frost in N. AL.