This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
I used to wonder much, when a fruit was said to become more luscious with the age of the tree. The truth came home to me very outspoken in a Pear tree which I planted for a gray Doyenne. It grew in an old nursery here, and had reached very good size. Though claimed as a gray Doyenne, and though a very fine fruit, it was not this kind. I have never seen its like, and know not its name. Its regular season is December, and it sometimes stretches into January, but about as often fails to put in an appearance at the table after November.
The tree was ten or fifteen years old, and bore a very fair, well-ripened fruit; it was carefully transplanted, with a mass of fibrous roots, into a deep made soil, piled over an old cow yard. It soon took hold, and started out with a new life and tremendous growth. In a year or two after, it bloomed out and yielded fruit in abundance, but they tasted more like a pumpkin than a pear. They were large and fair, but never got any more ripeness of flesh or taste than an Osage Orange. I tried it a year or two with the same ill luck, but all the while it kept up the same tremendous growth. From seven to ten feet in height it stretched up to twenty, and had girth and spread in proportion. I made up my mind that I must have been mistaken about the right tree, and that it was some other kind than that which had tempted me to buy at a large price, and to give great care to its transplanting. I could not believe that such a green, unripening, sour, gritty, black walnut kind of Pear could grow on the same limbs whose fruit I had eaten with so much relish.
The Beurre Giffard was about that time brought out as a fine early Pear - a quality which it has never belied. I wanted just that early Pear in that very place, to ripen before the cold northwest winds of Fall which so boldly strike could thrash off its fruit. In two years, every limb grew the Beurre Giffard. Its growth was healthy and fairly vigorous, but its early bearing trait, its drooping limbs, of less upright and stalwart growth than the stock, helped its prompt fruitage. It has borne me every season from its second year, a splendid crop of Gif-fards.
But here comes in another phase and service of the tree which I wish to note. Below the Beurre Giffard graft, the grafted limbs put out new shoots. These I let grow; year by year, they increased somewhat, but all, instead of that rampant upright growth, whose fruitage so puzzled and provoked, have stout, short jointed wood, which put out fruit buds right off. Even shoots, not over six inches in length, bear. So now from the same tree, every year I have, in July and August a full crop of the early Giffards, and from the old stock, a late October gathering of large, ovate and obovate, obtuse pyriform Pears. They ripen well, and mature into a rich golden rustidoat, and a fine yellow-fleshed late Fall fruit.
The cause of this change, as of that in many Pears, with the age of trees, doubtless is, that a stalwart wood growth and rich fruit product, call for unlike qualities in the sap, and different organs and regimen for each. If those of one balance the other, all right; the tree grows and the fruit shows its quality: but if not, those which rule for the nonce the life and condition of the tree, do so at the expense of its other faculty and purpose.
Nature gifts the tree with power to hold back its fruiting till its wood gets stature, strength and volume to endure the strain of its fruit births and ripening. It is so in all life. It has in every form its age of puberty and life renewal. As a rule, all of a kind are wisely and evenly gifted for the purposes of their being. But now and then in the same families, there are marked differences of growth and fruitage. Some fruit trees, of the same species bear very early, while others as the Dix and Urbaniste,etc., among Pears, wait a long while before showing us a fruit.
The Bartlett I think about the most prompt of the Pear kind. Whether from the nursery, or grafted on older trees, it yields an early crop. Is not the reason of its tenderness, the strain of its early and overbearing? I have never known tenderness to show itself exceptionally on young trees of the Bartlett, or on its grafts before they began to bear heavily. I have had none die out, but they die by inches after bearing as they do, a load of fruit every year. I think such trees may be revived by stripping off the Pears for a year or two, or by severe pruning, cutting back boldly to induce new wood. Young side shoots on those decaying or wasting trees do not die or loose their tips till after much cropping.