Nearly all the pear-seedlings used in this country for propagation are imported or grown from imported seed. In either case the seed used is mainly saved in the perry-producing sections of west Europe. The variety used for perry in France, Germany, Italy, and Austria is almost exclusively the snow-pear (Pyrus nivalis). The fruit is small and near to Nature. Hence it has plump seeds that produce vigorous stocks. Where the snow-pear is not used for perry-making, the writer found small austere varieties used of the Pyrus communis type that gave equally plump seed. Pear-seedlings have been quite extensively grown on the virgin soils of the West, where they reach in one season a size suitable for budding or grafting. The plan of crown-grafting (86. Crown-grafting Pear, Plum, and Cherry) and deep-setting in orchard is mainly practised in the West and budding (72) in the Eastern States. The pear seems to have a wider range than most fruits in the way of uniting with stocks not nearly allied botanically. Some varieties make a fairly good union with the quince, some with the apple, and others with the thorn, Juneberry, and even the bearberry (Pyrus arbutifolia).

175. Pear: Soil and Management

In all parts of the world visited by the writer, Downing's statement, that "the best soil for this fruit-tree is a strong loam of moderate depth with a dry subsoil," holds good. Even in Belgium, which is claimed to be the most congenial home of our best pears, the famous old trees of our day are on such soil, and in addition they have good air-drainage (97. Air-drainage) to lower levels. Also in east and west Europe the wild pears that reach the size and height of their neighboring forest-trees are on relatively high land with dry porous subsoil. Yet we have some varieties, such as Besi de la Motte, Mongolian snow, and Gibb, that do well on ordinary drift soils of the West and on all soils where the apple thrives. In high, airy positions, with light-colored soil, the fire-blight (127. Cover-crops and Blight) is also less damaging than on lower levels in protected situations, and the same is true of all bacterial • diseases.

The spacing, culture, spraying, and general management are discussed in the chapters on orchard management and spraying.

176. The Fruit and its Care

To an extent not equalled by any orchard fruit of the temperate zones, the pear is grown mainly by specialists for marketing. In its commercial growing the most favorable soils and climates are selected and the management is under the care of skilled growers. Near the Atlantic sea-coast and in the great inland-lake region the pear is largely grown for market, while over a large part of the Union its cultivation is on a limited scale, mostly by amateurs who are willing to grow varieties that have proven adapted to their locality.

The fruit of most varieties needs careful hand-picking while yet hard, and to be ripened under cover. If spread upon shelves, or on the floor of a dry, cool room, and not exposed to air-draughts, the fruit will slowly complete the ripening process with an added tenderness and melting quality not reached in open-air ripening on the tree. This is true of the summer pears, but to a still greater extent of the autumn and winter varieties.

The winter pears for culinary use also need care to prevent shrivelling. They are usually barrelled or boxed and kept in storage not too dry, such as would be suitable for storing the russet apples.