Question: I enjoy pears. Are they fairly successful here in Texas?
Answer: Yes, if you choose the right varieties. We have a real problem with fire blight in most of Texas. It’s a bacterial disease that can kill large limbs, even entire trees of susceptible species. For that reason you should never plant Bartlett pears in Texas (except in far West Texas). The best type for most of the state is the variety ‘Orient.’ It’s resistant to the disease, yet it still has reasonably good fruit quality. The old Texas variety Kieffer is really resistant, but its fruit is quite hard. To explain, pears with more “grit cells” tend to be more resistant to fire blight. However, those same grit cells diminish the fresh-eating appeal for those varieties. Pears have the added advantage of being attractive trees, so they can be tucked into a corner in the landscape and carry their own weight visually.