Intensive pear production

New blush pear varieties under intensive orchard cultivation at DEPI Pear Field Lab, Tatura, central Victoria

New blush pear varieties under intensive orchard cultivation at DEPI Pear Field Lab, Tatura, central Victoria

Intensive pear production systems use more than 1,000 trees/ha. They aim for early returns on capital and consistent high yields of good quality fruit from lower labour costs.

The classification of what constitutes a high density orchard varies between production regions. For the purpose of this site densities are defined as follows:

Low density = <1,000 trees/ha
Moderate density = 1,000-2,500 trees/ha
High density = 2,500-4,000 trees/ha
Very high density = 5,000-8,000 trees/ha
Ultra high density = >8,000 trees/ha

Intensive pear orchards can offer better production efficiency through:

  • Earlier bearing and therefore quicker returns on investment;
  • Improved fruit quality – up to variety-specific maximum densities where crop loads are managed;
  • Better labour efficiencies once established (eg. more efficient harvest and pruning/training).

When thinking of establishing an intensive pear orchard, growers need to consider the following:

Planning

Careful planning is needed to decide where to establish the new orchard. Click the links to read more.

Choosing rootstocks and scions

Rootstocks play an integral role in influencing vigour, growth habit and cropping of the scion cultivar, resistance to pest and diseases and tolerance to unfavourable conditions in the growing environment. Read more…

Profitability of an intensive pear orchard is initially dependent on how quickly new trees can be induced to set flowers and fruit. To realise the economic advantage of planting intensively, early cropping is essential. Click the links to read more.

Training systems

This is the integration of tree arrangement, planting density, support systems and training schemes. There is no one planting system to suit all situations. Factors such as soil, cultivar, rootstock, management regimes and socio-economic conditions will determine the optimal combination for each orchard. Read more…

Controlling vigour

Excessive tree vigour can have a major impact on the productivity of a pear orchard and pruning will be necessary. Read more…

Click the links to read about other methods for controlling vigour.

Irrigation

Intensive pear systems require more efficient irrigation structures to maximise production with low water use. Decisions need to be made on the type of irrigation (eg. drip vs. microspray) as well as whether the orchard uses Deficit Irrigation and when. Read more…

Nutrition

Like irrigation, tree nutrition in intensive systems must be tightly controlled to ensure maximum productivity. Read more…

Pest & disease management

The micro-environment of the tree canopy can change with different tree density and management systems. Suitable monitoring and control of pest and diseases are also required. Read more…

Pollination

Consistent pollination is essential for intensive pear production, particularly when self-incompatible pear varieties are grown. Planning decisions on suitable pollinators and their planting arrangement need to be made. Read more…

Harvest maturity

Deciding when to harvest pear fruit is not always straightforward and can have a critical impact on fruit quality, ripening and storage behaviour. Click the links to read more.

Postharvest handling

Pear fruit may require a cool-storage period after harvest to induce complete ripening and flavour development. Fruit can also be cool-stored for weeks or months – depending on variety – in air or controlled atmospheres. Read more…

Acknowledgements

Lexie McClymont, DEPI; Angie Grills, DEPI; Mark Hankin, APAL; Jenny Treeby, DEPI; Sophie Clayton, APAL; Ian Goodwin, DEPI; Sue Richards, DEPI.

The Intensive Pear section of the APAL website was compiled as part of the Profitable Pears project, funded by APALHAL and DEPI Victoria. First compiled in 2009, it was extended and updated in 2014. The information contained in this website is for general reference only. Growers should seek local technical advice before deciding on changes to production and postharvest practices.