The garden Pear has originated from Pyrus communis, a native of Britain and the temperate parts of Europe and Asia, and is therefore a perfectly hardy fruit. Like its cousin, the Apple, it has undergone marvellous transformations at the hands of the gardener, and its modern varieties may be said to have reached almost the acme of deliciousness so far as flavour is concerned. And yet with all its claims to popular favour the Pear is not nearly so extensively cultivated as the Apple. Indeed, judging from the Returns of the Board of Agriculture, there are about 9830 ac. under Pears in Great Britain and Ireland, against 178,548 ac. under Apples. There are therefore about nineteen times more apples than pears grown at present. England is the greatest, indeed one might almost say the only Pear country, having 9163 ac, leaving 226 to Ireland, 186 to Scotland, and 69 to Wales. The Isle of Man is credited with 1 1/2ac, and Jersey - so famous for its Pears - has 37 ac. devoted to their culture. The greatest Pear-growing county seems to be Gloucester, with 2046 ac; then Worcester, a good second, with 1591 ac. Hereford is third with 1367 ac, and Kent is fourth on the list with 847 ac. Little Middlesex is the fifth Pear county with 343 ac; and Chester, Monmouth, and Lancaster follow with 242, 203, and 236 ac. respectively. There seems to be plenty of scope, therefore, for increasing the cultivation of Pears in the British Islands, especially in Ireland, which has a climate of great possibilities.

Large quantities of pears are imported into the United Kingdom every year, a fact indicating the great demand for such a fine fruit. According to the returns of the Board of Agriculture for 1911, 578,309 cwt. of "raw " pears, valued at 536,982, were imported from the following countries: France, 225,851 cwt.; Belgium 162,783 cwt.; United States, 132,946 cwt.; Australia, 28,608 cwt.; Holland, 10,464 cwt.; Canada, 6,811 cwt.; Germany, 5,644 cwt.; and the Cape, 5,202 cwt. While the imports from Belgium and Holland have declined somewhat since 1907, they have gone up in leaps and bounds from the United States, which only sent us 24,000 cwt. in 1907 against 132,924 cwt. in 1911, an increase of 108,946 cwt. in four years.

Pears are grown very much in the same way as Apples and Plums, but are probably more mixed with these two fruits. Taking as a basis for computation 160 Pear trees to the acre (there are probably twice that number), it would mean that there are at least 1,575,000 Pear trees in the United Kingdom. Assuming an average crop of 2 bus. of fruit to each tree, the annual crop of British pears would be something like 3,150,000 bus. or about 56,000 tons - about twice as much as the imported produce. At the rate of 10 per ton the annual value of the pear crop would thus be about 560,000, somewhat more than the declared value of imported fruit.

It is stated in Mr. Bunyard's Fruit Farming for Profit that the average yield per acre for pears is 2 tons. This seems to be a curiously small crop in normal seasons, averaging only 28 lb. per tree at 160 trees to the acre. If a greater number of trees to the acre than 160, the average yield per tree would of course be much less than 28 lb., and would not pay any market gardener to grow. We have known some Jargonelle Pear trees, well established and with plenty of space, yielding an average of 8 bus. per tree for many years.

The annual receipts and expenses from an acre of established Pear trees may be estimated as follows, reckoning 160 trees to an acre, and not taking into account undercrops: -

Receipts

160 trees, 2 bus. each, at 3s. 6d. per bus. = 320 bus

56

0

0

Expenses

20 tons of manure at 6s. per ton...

6

0

0

10 cwt. basic slag at 2, 10s. per ton...

1

5

0

Cost of spreading manure...

1

10

0

Pruning...

1

0

0

Hoeing...

2

10

0

Picking 320 bus. at 6d. ... ...

8

0

0

Rent, rates, and taxes...

10

0

0

Miscellaneous..................

5

15

0

36

0

0

Profit ......

20

0

0

56

0

0

Like all other estimates, the only fairly sure thing about the figures is the expenses. If market gardeners could rely every year upon a crop of pears yielding 56 per acre, they would probably be happy. But it is well known that in some seasons not one - half of this amount is obtained. The only item in the expenditure then saved is that of picking and marketing, but these in no way compensate for the poverty of the crop. On the other hand, it must be borne in mind that a properly cultivated Pear garden, with 160 well-established trees, ought to yield more than an average of 2 bus. per tree. "Where there are 300 and 400 trees to the acre it is impossible to expect anything but poor crops, and fruit perhaps badly diseased into the bargain.