Summer Pear Vs. Winter Pear: What Is A Winter Pear And Summer Pear

Summer Pear Vs. Winter Pear: What Is A Winter Pear And Summer Pear

There’s nothing like a perfectly ripe, dripping with sugary juice pear, whether it is a summer pear or a winter pear. winter pear is? While it might seem obvious that the disparity lies with when they are picked, the difference between winter pears and summer pears is a bit more complicated.

Summer Pear vs. Winter Pear

The pear tree is native to coastal and temperate regions of Western Europe and North Africa and east across Asia. There are more than 5,000 varieties of pears! They are divided into two main groupings: the soft-fleshed European pears (P. communis) and the crisp, almost apple-like Asian pears (P. pyrifolia).

European pears are best when ripened off the tree and are again divided into two categories: summer pears and winter pears. Summer pears are those such as Bartlett that can be ripened after harvest without storing them. Winter pears are defined as those such as D’Anjou and Comice that need a month or longer in cold storage before ripening peaks.

So the difference between winter and summer pears has more to do with the time of ripeness than that of harvest, but they each have their own unique upsides.

What is a Summer Pear?

Summer and winter pears are as different as summer and winter squash. Summer pears produce early (summer-fall) and ripen on the tree. They are usually on the smaller to medium sized with the exception of Bartlett and Ubileen.

They have thin, delicate, easily bruised skins which mean they have a shorter storage, shipping and sales time than winter pears. This delicacy means they also lack the grit of winter pears which some people prefer. Thus, they are less desirable to grow for the commercial grower but are ideal for the home grower. They can be ripened on the tree or with a very few days of post-harvest chilling.

What is a Winter Pear?

Winter pears are categorized as such in relation to their time of ripening. They are harvested throughout autumn but are then cold stored. They need 3-4 weeks of cold storage to ripen. There is a fine line here; if winter pears are picked too early, they stay hard and never get sweet, but if picked too late, the flesh becomes soft and mushy.

So commercial growers rely on some technical and electronic methods to gauge when to pick winter pears but this isn’t exactly logistical for the home grower. A combination of criteria can be used to determine when the home grower should harvest the fruit.

First, the calendar date the fruit is usually picked can help, although it may be off by 2-3 weeks depending upon factors such as weather.

A noticeable color change is a factor. All pears change color as they mature; of course, it depends on which type you are growing to know what to look for in a color change. Seed color also changes as the fruit matures. It goes from white to beige, to dark brown or black. Pick a pear and slice into it to inspect the seed color.

Lastly, winter pears are usually ready to pick when they easily separate from the stem when gently tugged.

There are, I am sure, devotees of one or the other – diehards for either summer or winter pears, but as with most everything in life, it comes down to what the individual prefers.

10 Varieties of Pears From Anjou to Williams

Most North American pears are grown in Oregon and Washington, and the harvest months listed here reflect that. You can find some variety of pear in season in North America from August through May (and even into June some years). Your best bet for finding local pears is at farmers markets—ask the grower when you can expect the harvest and how long it might last.

Why Summer Pruning is a Good Idea

There’s a tendency to view summer pruning as a mysterious art carried out by the experts, while the rest of us stick to winter pruning. Actually, summer pruning isn’t risky and sometimes it really is a better option than winter pruning. One of the main difference between the two techniques is that pruning in winter stimulates growth pruning in summer checks it. Another important difference is that it is the ONLY TIME to prune members of the prunus family – plums, almonds, apricots, nectarines,peaches, gages etc to minimise the risk of silver leaf infection. Silver leaf is a fungal disease and its wind-borne spores are released from late autumn through to spring when they can enter fresh pruning cuts.

Maybe it’s all the foliage that is off-putting when it comes to summer pruning, it is all so much easier in the winter when you can see exactly what you are doing. Besides which, there’s a fear that cutting back new growth will also be cutting away next year’s fruit or flowers. Worry not, what you are cutting away is the over-vigorous growth that is crowding the tree and using energy that is better directed to the fruiting buds. This is especially true of trained fruit trees such as cordons, espaliers and step-overs. Left to their own devices in summer they will quickly turn into unruly mop-tops and all the early training will be lost in a forest of foliage. From their second year of planting, late summer is when all trained fruit trees should have their main pruning. Summer pruning will also restrict the growth and help shape other fruiting and ornamental trees.

Soft fruit can also be summer pruned. Cut any damaged wood from blackcurrants straight after fruiting and keep prickly gooseberries under control by removing crossing or damaged branches. By summer pruning red and white currants, extra light and air will reach the fruit and speed the ripening process.

In the ornamental garden it’s the early flowering shrubs that should be pruned immediately after flowering. Philadelphus, kolkwitzia, deutzia and Kerria japonica should all be treated this way. To keep the shrub shapely, cut out a third of the old brown wood close to the ground – this will encourage new flowering shoots and then trim away any over-exuberant growth. Where a shrub has got overlarge and leggy it can be hard-pruned to within 20cm of the ground. When taking this drastic action give the plant a thorough soaking, fork some bonemeal into the soil and top with a moisture retaining mulch.

Some plants are ‘bleeders’ and lose alarming amounts of sap if pruned in late winter or early spring. Birches and maples fall in to this category and are best pruned in summer. Similarly, grapevines, which must be given their main pruning before the end of January to avoid bleeding, should have the vigorous new lateral growths left untrimmed until mid-summer.
So, get out there with your secateurs and get to grips with summer pruning, it really isn’t rocket science and your garden will look all the better for it.


After the Chanticleer pear flowers in the spring, the tree produces small, round fruit. The fruit is nothing like a pear you would find in the grocery store -- it is about the size of a pea. The fruit is edible, although the extreme bitter flavor makes it rather distasteful to most. The fruit of the Chanticleer pear tree attracts birds, and stays on the tree throughout the fall and winter. Plant a Chanticleer pear tree not for its fruit, but for its ornamental flowers and vibrant colors throughout the seasons.

Pear Varieties

There are more than 5,000 pear varieties grown worldwide.

Bartlett pears are most versatile and most commonly found pear fruit in supermarkets. They are excellent canned, fresh, and in salads and pear desserts.

The pear is actually a member of the rose family, and a cousin to the apple, and is one of the oldest fruits known to man.

They are thought to have originated is China or Asia, and migrated to North America with colonists in the early 1700's, and are also one of the first fruits to be brought to North America from Europe.

As one of the few fruits that do not mature well if allowed to ripen on the tree, pears are usually picked before they are ripe, and are a later harvest fruit in the Okanagan British Columbia.

Those that do ripen on the tree will have a gritty texture and the flesh will turn brown and soft. Once harvested, pears are packed and stored in cold storage in the packinghouse.

The shape of a pear varies from apple to teardrop shaped. It's skin color ranges from light yellow through to red and brown. The flesh of a pear is juicy and in some varieties, such as Asian pears, almost translucent.

A rich, sweet and buttery flavor, pears are delicious on their own, in desserts and sweets, and are outstanding in main dishes. They are so tender they were once called the "butter fruit".

They can be baked, pickled, canned, frozen, used in baby food, or processed into jams, jellies and pies.

Although they were once exclusively a fall and winter fruit, pears today, thanks to modern storage and transportation methods, are available in the markets nearly year-round.

Okanagan Pear Varieties

Yellow Bartlett pears are the most common pear variety world-wide.

They have clear yellow skin when ripe. The flesh of a Bartlett is juicy and sweet with a smooth texture, making them ideal for eating fresh. Bartlett pears are nearly bell shaped, are also extremely aromatic pears, and have that distinct "pear flavor".

Bartlett's are very commonly used for canning because they keep their flavor even after heating, and will hold their shape well when baked or poached. Try a sliced Bartlett in a garden green salad with your favorite dressing. Or, simply serve a freshly sliced Bartlett with cheese for an appetizing snack.

When choosing a Bartlett pear look for one that is bright and fresh looking with no bruises or external damage. It will change color as it ripens. Yellow Bartletts turn from light green to golden yellow. In the Okanagan Bartlett pears mature beginning the end of August and are available through December.

The Red Bartlett, known also as 'Max Red', was first discovered on a regular Bartlett tree near Zillah, Washington in 1938. Red Bartlett pears have all the wonderful flavor and sweet aroma of the regular Bartlett, plus a beautiful red skin color. They can vary in color from a light red vertical striping over a green background to a dark, solid maroon color. In almost all respects, Red Bartlett pears are nearly the same as Yellow Bartletts.

As they ripen, Red Bartletts color brightens to a clear, strong red, as the green background pigments change to yellow, just as they do in the green Bartlett variety. They add a beautiful contrast of color in fruit bowls and baskets, while providing the delicious flavors and smooth textures of Yellow Bartletts. Red Bartlett pear varieties are excellent eaten fresh or in salads, canned, baked or poached, and even prepared as roasted pears. When ripe, Red Bartlett pears give off a sweet aroma. This pear also bruises easily when ripe. Because of their flavor and sweetness, Red Bartlett pear varieties are a good, all-around choice for pear preserves, syrups, pear sauce and chutneys, in pear dessert recipes, and for a favorite homemade pear jam recipe.