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What is happening to my pear tree???

 
Bryan John
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I planted this pear tree in the spring. It was a bare root from Stark Brothers. All of my other trees from them have done excellent. You can see the other pear tree from them in the background of this picture. Compared to all my other trees, this pear is not doing so well. He is still green and nothing has fallen off, nor are there any insects attacking it. Should I worry? Any suggestions?
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Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Bryan,
a few questions:
did the pear arrive with the branches pruned as they are in the photo?
If so, was the other tree pruned in the same way?
The branches have been 'headed back' pretty hard-
I generally leave my chosen scaffold branches 'as is'.
I'd say that the tree could take a while to recover from losing so much wood/roots.
That theory gets blown if both trees have the same pruning/conditions

Oh, and I'd mulch around the trees asap. I use chipped tree mulch around trees if I can-
the fungal environment created is ideal for trees, and it also looks good.
I usually dump it on pretty thick, so it's important to protect the trees from collar rot with a sleeve around the trunk's base.
Slitting the side of an old plastic plant pot, cutting out the bottom and slipping it around the trunk does the job.


 
Bryan John
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Thanks. Both were pruned by Stark Brothers prior to arriving. I did everything the same to both trees. The only difference I can think of is that the bare one gets about 2 more hours of direct sunlight than the other one does.
 
John Elliott
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I'm going to go out on a limb (not one of the pruned ones) and say that the problem is not with the tree, but with the soil. This year I'm getting very attuned to how soil conditions just a few feet away can be radically different. I have one pear tree that is doing excellent, and two that are just surviving, hanging in there. The one that is doing great is within distance of a hugelbed I put in 2 years ago -- its roots can access those nutrients. Not so with the other two, they are 12' and 18' away and are trying to survive in compacted Georgia clay. It looks like I am going to have to excavate around their drip lines and pile in the rotting wood chips and biochar. Simple mulching with wood chips just isn't doing it for them. Maybe you need to do the same.
 
Bryan John
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Thanks, John. That is sort of what I was leaning towards. Like I said, the leaves are green and fresh, it just hasn't grown in like two months. I was considering digging some trenches around the tree and replacing the soil. I do have a zucchini planted with it, but I have that with a couple of other trees too and they didn't hurt those trees. Could bugs do anything like this? I do get grubs on that part of the lawn. Thanks for the help.
 
Angelika Maier
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There's another tree close by maybe it is root competition, because roots extend more than the crown. Otherwise the pear does not look bad. I would mulch with spent Lucerne. Pears get pear and cherry slug.
 
Charles Tarnard
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Location: PDX Zone 8b 1/6th acre
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I've noticed some of my plants in the shade have done a much more thorough job of leafing than my full sun plants. That may be part of it.

I'd also definitely try to clear a radius of grass and replace that with some mulch of some kind, as John suggested.
 
Bryan John
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Thanks everyone. You can't really see it, but I do have the trees mulched. I mulched about a 2 1/2 foot diameter around the trees. Today, I am going to dig around it and amend the soil and maybe expand the mulched area. I am glad I haven't heard any of you say the tree is a lost cause!
 
Ann Torrence
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What I'm noticing from the 350 cider apples and other fruit trees we planted this year is that new growth is both variety specific and varies by individual. That amount of growth is on the low end of what I'm seeing. I'd like to see at least a foot on everything this growing season. Some have already hit it, some are still dillydallying.

Pears also seem to vary widely from individual to individual. We only have 6 varieties/20 trees of pear so I don't have a solid observations on growth patterns, but even in those trees, that much difference between two trees seems normal to me, and that's without considering whether you have compounded the differences with different root stock. But now I'm drifting into fool speculation.

That's a pretty large caliper tree you got from Stark Bros. It might just take some extra time to settle in since it has been set back harder compared to a smaller tree. Your goal this year is more about root growth and getting it ready for winter; leaves and branch growth will follow. Remember: Sleep, Creep, Leap. The first year can be a lot like watching a napping infant, the next year they stretch out a bit, then they take off like teenagers in a growth spurt. If you feel compelled to jostle it awake with any kind of fertilizer, make sure it's balanced with nitrogen for leaves and phosphorus for the roots. A big flush of green leaves without supporting root growth will not help that tree get through winter. Some rock phosphate on the surface around the drip line wouldn't hurt if you have average soil. We mixed a pound of it in every planting hole this year.

The other adage: plant pears for your heirs. They are just slow.

@Leila, bare root trees from the big nurseries in the states are shipped from a warehouse cooler. They can get pruned pretty close for storage. They come in long skinny boxes, sometimes triangular ones, because our shipping is priced on length plus girth measurement. I've gotten untrimmed, feathered bareroot trees, but only from the smaller nurseries I've worked with. .
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Ann Torrence wrote:Leila, bare root trees from the big nurseries in the states are shipped from a warehouse cooler. They can get pruned pretty close for storage(...) I've gotten untrimmed, feathered bareroot trees, but only from the smaller nurseries I've worked with. .
Thanks Ann, I sometimes forget the massive scale of some things in the US, and attendant 'practicalities'
 
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