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.
It is generally supposed by American pear growers that Europe is the paradise of fruit growing, but in truth they have their peculiar troubles as we have ours; indeed they have many troubles of a kind similar to our own. Of "cracking," a correspondent of the London Garden writing of the " Pear in English Market Gardens," thus speaks:
"Pears of the commoner kinds are chiefly grown on the old-fashioned standard run-wild system, no pruning being given but what is done with the saw; and, in a good season, it is wonderful how heavily the trees are laden with fruit. These standards have been "worked" on the pear stock, which florins a clean stem, the branches usually springing from near the union of the stock with the scion. There are dwarf pear trees too, and many that succeed better on the quince than on the pear. Market gardeners generally are not, however, very particular about their stocks, for they get the bulk of their trees at the nurseries, and what they graft themselves is usually done on whatever stock they have at hand, be it seedling, sucker, or layer of pear or quince. They practice grafting more on old and worn out trees than on young stocks, and for this purpose they head back the trees in winter or early in spring, either at pruning or digging time; the scions, after being selected, are "heeled in" until March, when they are put on the trees. Grafting more than one kind of pear on a tree is said to be a preventive of fruit cracking during the swelling period.
A large grower near London, who possesses the finest natural pear tree soil in the district, states that a somewhat light yet deep, substantial, hazelly loam suits pears best. In reference to cracking, he found that, although the trees were in a thriving and healthy condition, and annually set good crops of fruit, yet at gathering time scarcely a half sieveful of good marketable pears could be obtained from them, the fruits being invariably cracked. This induced him to try the effect of grafting more than one sort on each tree, and the result proved most satisfactory; for, not only did the grafted portions produce excellent fruit, but the original kinds no longer cracked; on the contrary, they produced fruit of exceedingly fine quality, well formed and symmetrical. Finding grafting in this way successful in a few cases, he extended the practice throughout his orchards; therefore, where one kind of pear grew alone on a tree, now there are at least three sorts, each apparently being of material benefit to the other; for example, a number of trees, formerly Beurre Diel only, now bear huge branches of Beurre Bosc and Louise Bonne, the trees beinor furnished in good season with large crops of these three sorts".
As for the remedies suggested, we may remind our readers that " cracking " is a very indefinite term, and that cracked pears come from a variety of causes. The cracking which we find on the White Doyenne undoubtedly comes from the growth of a minute fungus, which in an early stage of growth destroys the cuticle; this deprived of the power of increasing its cells at that particular point, as healthy cuticle can do in order to permit the expansion as the fruit grows, has to crack. But the cracking of Beurre Giffard, as we have carefully noted, and perhaps in Beurre Diel and others which we have not noted so closely, does not appear to come from fungoid attacks, and we have never been able to arrive at a clear understanding of the cause. In these latter cases perhaps the companionship of some other kind on the same main stem might remedy the trouble; but we can say positively in the case of the fungoid cracking of White Doyenne, it will not, as we know of one top grafted with Bartlett twelve years ago.
The Bartletts are always good, the White Doyenne never, all on the same tree.