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Help! What the funk is going on with my pear tree???

 
pollinator
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A nice big section of the overgrown pear tree fell over today. Didn't hear a sound in the house. No lightning or anyone standing in it. I went out for a closer look and then went back to the house for my phone. Here are some pictures. Other than helping me rule out termites, Google has been less than helpful.

We've been here 15 years and the tree was fruit-bearing when we moved in.


the break


detail 1


detail 2


detail 3


detail 4

First question: what the heck caused/causes that? Pest, fungus, combination, etc?

Second question: is there anything I can do to help it or save the rest of the tree from the same fate?

Third: is there a risk to my nearby apple trees?

Fourth: anybody know things to do with a bunch of unripe pears? (that may be a separate topic)

More photos are available, if needed. And if the photos aren't showing, let me know so I can try that again.
 
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How are unripe are they? Pears often are picked unripe and will ripen on a counter or shelf.
 
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Unripe pears, but with developed size can be candied in sugar syrup (with few cloves) on low heat till they become translucent. Then they can be consumed with ice creams, puddings, added to plum butter or consumed plain. Extremely delicious!
 
Molly Kay
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Sorry about that. Here are the pictures.

The pears are about a month from being picked at this point. I'm hoping the downed portion stays alive long enough to harvest the ones that didn't get knocked off when it hit the ground.
PearBreak.jpg
the break
the break
PearDetail1.jpg
detail 1
detail 1
PearDetail2.jpg
detail 2
detail 2
PearDetail3.jpg
detail 3
detail 3
 
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Looks like mycelium. I expect the entire tree to collapse eventually.
 
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According to these articles, it could be spittlebugs or slime flux:

https://www.al.com/living/2012/08/that_nasty_bubbly_white_foam_o.html

https://www.gardenguides.com/12572549-why-is-my-oak-tree-weeping.html

 
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Something to keep in mind is the lifespan of a tree.

Pears (not dwarf or semi-dwarf variety) tend to live for about 50 years.

It definitely looks like some kind of mycelium has invaded but without a fruiting body you can't identify it. I have heard that some pears can be susceptible to a oak root fungus but you would be seeing mushrooms all around the base of your tree.

Was the branch overwhelmed with weight from to many pears? Perhaps a mixture of stress and a 'wound' led to this breakage.  

 
Molly Kay
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Anne Miller wrote:According to these articles, it could be spittlebugs or slime flux:

https://www.al.com/living/2012/08/that_nasty_bubbly_white_foam_o.html

https://www.gardenguides.com/12572549-why-is-my-oak-tree-weeping.html



Doesn't look like either. There's no weeping outside the tree. The damage is all on the inside. But thank you!

 
Molly Kay
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@Joseph Lofthouse, yes I expect the rest of the tree will go down at some point. I'm just hoping there might be a way to prolong its life at least enough to get another pear tree fruiting. I'm not even sure what variety it is but they are good pears.


Timothy Norton wrote:Something to keep in mind is the lifespan of a tree.

Pears (not dwarf or semi-dwarf variety) tend to live for about 50 years.

It definitely looks like some kind of mycelium has invaded but without a fruiting body you can't identify it. I have heard that some pears can be susceptible to a oak root fungus but you would be seeing mushrooms all around the base of your tree.

Was the branch overwhelmed with weight from to many pears? Perhaps a mixture of stress and a 'wound' led to this breakage.  



I think it's a semi-dwarf so probably at the end of its lifespan. There is a pretty good crop this year, so yes the fruit weight could also be a factor. I'm sure the lack of rain this year hasn't helped.
 
Timothy Norton
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Molly Kay wrote: I think it's a semi-dwarf so probably at the end of its lifespan. There is a pretty good crop this year, so yes the fruit weight could also be a factor. I'm sure the lack of rain this year hasn't helped.



Semi-dwarf varieties are more so 25 year range of a lifespan so you have to think that is pretty impressive!

I believe the tree will keep kicking for a few more years, but you are looking at the downhill slope.

I'd recommend you take this opportunity to research new trees you might be interested in, if you want another tree, and get it into the ground to transition to.

I've been looking at Trees of Antiquity for my own fruit tree planting plans and love the varieties.

If you do start seeing mushrooms, feel free to post the fruiting bodies. That might identify if the tree is succumbing to a parasitic fungus or if its just an opportunistic decayer.
 
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We have 100+ year old pear trees from the early European farmers here.   They shed limbs when they are stressed from drought,  wind or weight like fruit or snow.  The rest of the tree grows much better the next year and fruit production doubles.

But once a fruit tree starts shedding limbs, be careful what and who goes under the tree. Most people here cut down fruit trees when they get to this stage because insurance.
 
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Do you have callery pears in your area? You might look into grafting a few branches from your tree on one or two. If they  aren't on your land, maybe you could find them in a wild place to preseve your pears. When you have a pear tree of your own large enough, you could go back and retrieve some scions.

Callery pears. Turn a problem tree into an asset.

Grafting onto Callery pears.
 
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As trees get older they get invaded by mushrooms toward the end of life your tree will go for a couple more years but will slowly be composted by the mush room spawn shiitake and oyster mushroom take around six years to consume a log
Tim
 
Molly Kay
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Joylynn Hardesty wrote:Do you have callery pears in your area? You might look into grafting a few branches from your tree on one or two. If they  aren't on your land, maybe you could find them in a wild place to preseve your pears. When you have a pear tree of your own large enough, you could go back and retrieve some scions.

Callery pears. Turn a problem tree into an asset.

Grafting onto Callery pears.



First I've heard of Callery pears. I'll have to ask around and see if anyone in the area has them. Wild pears in general aren't common in this part of the state, but if Callery are invasive enough they'll turn up here eventually.

@Timothy Brennan, yes that seems to be what's going on. Only other option that makes sense is the oak root rot without the usual mushrooms at the base of the tree (that's rare but it can happen apparently). It's a good tree that's given us many pears over the years.
 
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Pear trees rot in steep crotch union.  Cable the trunks and your tree will go for a lot longer.
 
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Steven Rodenberg wrote:Pear trees rot in steep crotch union.  Cable the trunks and your tree will go for a lot longer.



Yes, it looks like that's exactly the problem. When training young trees, try for a 45 degree angle for better strength to support fruit loads. Narrower angles can have bark inclusion, which creates weak attachment. And, in this case, allowed for rot. Cabling might help. You can also support heavy branches.

Thinning fruit can reduce weight. You might also make some thinning cuts. Your pear tree will try to regrow new branches now. Thin and train them to create better structure for the remaining life of the tree.

For an excellent guide to pruning everything, check out (the late) Cass Turnbull's Guide to Pruning. You'll never be the same after you read it.

 
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