Wednesday, 21 March 2007


Dear Ian.

I have a pear tree in the garden. It has been a good cropper over the years but has started to produce tiny discoloured fruit that drop off. What is the problem? B.N. by e-mail

Normally my answer to any fruit tree problem is lack of water. So many people are now having problems with apples and pears because they are planted in dry areas. Chances are when this happens there are large leylandii hedges near them, which suck up all of the available water. In this case though I think it is something else.

Good pears can be quite difficult to grow - more so than apples. Their blossom opens early and is thus more frost-prone and there may not be enough pollinating insects around. But as fruit is setting on your tree, the culprit is almost certainly pear midge and if you cut a freshly dropped fruit open, you might find little whitish-orange maggots inside. These pests move into the soil to pupate, and then emerge as adults the following spring ready to lay their eggs. To succeed with pears, you need to break this cycle. Collecting up newly dropped fruit and disposing of them prevents the little grubs from reaching the soil. If you feel the urge to spray, do so when the flower buds are just opening and the white petal colour is showing.


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