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How to help a fruit tree that doesn't produce fruit

 
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My daughter called me asking about her pear tree since it has never produced any fruit.  I looked around for some solutions.  I even got out some books looking for what to do. This is how to help a fruit tree that doesn't produce fruit.

Lots of  wood chips, I mean lots of them. These chips  will hold the  water in the soil and also they will keep the ground shaded and cool.

Try planting some nitrogen fixers.  A good solution would be to surround the tree with comfrey which will get chopped and dropped on a regular basis.  Adding some perennial flowers, including mint. No fertilizer is needed, just wood chips and chop and drop.

Using a  timer when watering helps a lot because even one missed watering  or if  the soil gets to dry this can cause enough stress for blossoms to drop at any stage during the flowering stage.

Plants  also take in minerals thru their leaves, not just from their roots. So it helps to make a foliar spray and spray the leaves.

Some other things that help are Epsom salts and compost tea.

After the first year of adding wood chips, chop and drop, and tea spraying the fruit trees will most likely show signs of improvement.
 
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Before dumping loads of woodchips, what is the problem?

Does it flower?

Does the pear tree have a pollinator tree flowering at the same time? If it doesn't, you can dump as many woodchips as you want, it won't help.

Are there pollinating insects around at the time of flowering?

Are the branches pointing upwards, or more to the side? It changes the hormonal balance, pointing up will produce leaves/shoots, pointing outwards (in apples 90° is optimal) will produce fruits.
 
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I'm following hans' lead and I think it's important to identify what's going on. If it's not blossoming, very low soil phosphorous could be one cause. If it is blossoming, is it a self-fertile tree? Most pears need a pollinizer, but a few are self fertile. Are frosts happening after the tree blossoms or is the tree growing in a frost pocket? Everything could be just right for the tree to blossom then a frost prevents any fruit from ever forming, year after year. It's a possibility. Does your daughter know if it is a fruit bearing pear tree? There are quite a few ornamental non-fruiting pear trees which still have showy flowers. I imagine most of us have heard of a Bradford pear which doesn't bear fruit, but there are more such as Aristocrat, Redspire, and Chanticleer among others.
 
Anne Miller
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I really appreciate the help.  I think we bought the tree in 2009 or 2010.  My husband saw them outside Big Lots and couldn't resist buying one.

I feel a big part of the problem might be that the tree is root bound since it was probably planted on top of limestone rocks.  It had one pear on it one time though something happened to it, maybe the wind blow it off.

I don't remembering it flowering and you maybe right about the low soil phosphorous since it is mostly limestone.

I'll ask our daughter how it is doing and what she did.  It does serve a purpose as it shades the chicken yard.
 
James Freyr
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There's one more thing I thought of that I think is important to consider and add to this thread. It's the trees chill hours. Fruit trees need a certain amount of time exposed to temperatures around 45 degrees f or colder before they will blossom the following season. For example, it's possible a northern apple tree variety that grows well in Michigan but is planted in Florida or Southern California may grow and get big but never blossom because it didn't get 1200 or 1500 hours of cold temperatures while dormant.
 
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As Hans said – it probably needs a pollinator. Though some trees are self-fertile are grafted with both on a common root stock.

Also, to ask an obvious question, it’s not an ornamental pear is it?

Limestone rocks? That could be one of the issues. They like slightly acidic soil. In that case, adding compost and sulphur may help.



 
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Most pear varieties will self-pollinate although you get better results if you have a pollinator.  Considering the age of this tree I would say something else is going on. If you have room you may want to plant a couple of good cultivar Pears and just use the non-fruiting one as a shade tree.
 
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hans muster wrote:Are the branches pointing upwards, or more to the side? It changes the hormonal balance, pointing up will produce leaves/shoots, pointing outwards (in apples 90° is optimal) will produce fruits.



I think you may have answered my apple tree question.
So how do you encourage the correct type of branching?
 
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I have a super large, healthy crab apple tree that came with our house. 7 years into living there I was like...you know that thing has never, ever bloomed. I girdled it. It bloomed. Then my neighbor told me they'd gotten apples for the first time ever off their apple tree, likely because my crab apple bloomed to pollinate it.

Not telling you to go out and girdle your tree but what I read is that they bloom when they believe they need to reproduce and my tree was so well established and healthy it didn't feel that need. It's bloomed every year since.
 
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