Bradford Pear Bounty

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winemaker81

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When we built our house in the mid-90's, about half of new construction planted Bradford Pears. We didn't, as our lot is heavy wooded and the builder planted only ornamental shrubs in front of the house.

A few years later we were told that planting of the tree was banned in Wake County (where Raleigh NC is). I have not been able to confirm that, but we don't see them in new construction, so it may be correct. Generally speaking, we only see older ones, and not that many of them.

About 15 years ago a neighbor had a couple of big ones -- we had a wind storm and one of them essentially disintegrated. He spent 2 weeks cleaning up the mess, as the tree was honestly in chunks. A couple of years later he cut the other one down, controlling the mess.

While searching for confirmation of the ban, I found this:

https://forestry.ces.ncsu.edu/2023/02/nc-bradford-pear-bounty/
 
Before we moved from Dayton to Rochester, we had Bradford pears in our landscape. We had the typical problems with the Bradford's but we liked the flowers in he Spring. When we moved to Rochester, our landscaper recommend Cleveland pears, a stronger cultivar without many of the negatives of the Bradford. We never regretted going with the Cleveland variety.

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I should snap a pic of what Bradford pears have done here. Forests are filled with them now. I hate them. They were a cheap, hardy tree that would green up fast to help the spring sale of a new house. That's it. But they are a nightmare, really. Another one you might want to look up that was a nursery and landscaper's wet dream turned nightmare is Cogangrass. Highly invasive, it is all over the place in pastures and along roadsides in the South now.
 
I have been trying to eliminate them from my farm, although It probably won't do much good since there are fields of them within several hundred yards. This year as I was doing some touch up pruning to some pear trees, I came up with the idea of grafting onto the Bradford pear root stock. I have never grafted, but it didn't seem very difficult and didn't require a lot of investment in materials. Mixed opinions on the internet about compatibility, but I gave it a try. I grafted 15, both american and asian pears, so far nearly all seem to be taking (pretty sure one is dead). They will still need watching for suckers and not sure about survivability without spraying. If they survive the top growth should produce food for wildlife and I have eliminated or at least reduced the spread by seed.
If it works, next year I will save a lot more scions.
 
What everyone else has said and then some! There are only two redeeming qualities for Bradford:

1- One of the trees on our property "crossed" with an old time Kefir pear years ago with resulting fruit the size of ping-pong balls instead of marble size. I made an acceptable white from them. This was the one and only time the cross has happened.
2- I'm a woodturner and Bradford wood turns nicely and closely resembles cherry when finished.

Other than those two points, I'm all for eliminating them totally.
 
I came up with the idea of grafting onto the Bradford pear root stock. I have never grafted, but it didn't seem very difficult and didn't require a lot of investment in materials. Mixed opinions on the internet about compatibility,
Grafting young scions should work well. My first year without proper parafilm grafting tape had about 80% success. If you are good at it, there is some compatibility in putting apple on top which gives you a lot of choices on flavor/ acid/ color/ tannin in the fruit. Scions are $4 each.
The bad, last year was hot and dry. Two out of twenty five field grafts scions made it into this year.
 
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