The best known of all pears, 'Conference' is excellent eaten as a dessert pear but also exceptional when cooked. The long bell shaped fruits with firm flesh can be eaten hard or fully ripe with a smooth juicy flavour. Trees crop late in the season from October to November, and the fruit will store until January. Enjoy 'Conference' pears at their best by picking them slightly under-ripe, store them in a cool place and bring indoors to ripen slowly.
Grafted onto 'Quince A' rootstock to produce a tree with moderate vigour and promote fruiting at an early age. These strong growing pear trees are partially self-fertile but make the ideal planting partner for another variety such as 'Williams Bon Chretien' to aid pollination and increase the yield. If you only have room for one pear tree then make sure that a neighbour has a tree close by that can act as a suitable pollinator. Rootstock: Quince A. Height and spread: 4m (13').
Estimated time to cropping once planted: 2 years.
Estimated time to best yields: 5 years.
Plant pear trees in any well drained soil in a sheltered sunny position. Prior to planting, incorporate plenty of well rotted manure or garden compost into the planting hole and drive the stake into the ground to support the tree. Staking after planting may result in damage to the root ball. Plant fruit trees at their original soil level and firm them into the ground. Fasten the tree to the stake using a tree tie, and water well. Pears will produce the best crops when planted near to another pear tree to increase pollination.
Fruit trees do not suffer weed competition well. Keep weeds and grass clear from within a 30cm radius of base of the tree. In spring, while the ground is moist, apply a mulch of well rotted manure or garden compost around the base of the tree, taking care not to mound it up against the stem. This will help to retain moisture throughout the summer. Feed pear trees regularly and water during particularly dry periods.
Pruning pear trees begins immediately after planting. Remove the central stem to just above the highest side branch. For the following 3 years, prune only the tips of the remaining main branches by one third in winter. Aim for about eight main branches which will form the frame of your tree, with fruiting sub branches growing off of them. From the fourth year, some sub branches can be pruned out at the union where they join the main branch, to allow new sub branches to take their place.
In order to produce the best quality, largest pears, the fruits should be thinned in July leaving one or two pears remaining per cluster.
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