This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
In the vicinity of New York there is a large number of old trees of the Bell pear, and they usually bear a crop every year. This variety always meets with a ready sale, early in the season, for shipping to Boston and other Eastern cities, and is more profitable than any other early variety that ripens before the Bartlett for New York market This goes to prove that persons about starting in the business of pear-growing for profit, would do well, before making out their list, to consult with some of the leading fruit merchants where the crop is to be sold. With the single exception of the Bell, early varieties of pears ripening before the Bartlett, have not been profitable in our orchard, and for this reason they have been nearly all grafted with other and later kinds. The Bartlett sold readily, even when the price fell to from $6 to $8 per barrel, but later in the season the same quality of fruit brought $16 and $18 per barrel.
The Doyenne Bossock, not so well known, sold at from $5 to $8 per barrel of two and a-half bushels. This variety is large, showy and of good quality, and is gaining in favor each year.
The Belle Lucrative, a pear of fine quality, of medium size, was a drug in the market, not selling for as much per barrel as the poorest quality of cooking pear. At present it is useless to include this variety in a list for the orchard for New York market. There is no demand for it, unless there is a great scarcity of other kinds.
The Beurre Clairgeau is a popular market variety, its size and color being in its favor. This variety brought higher prices, the past season, than any other kind. When first-class Duchesse were selling for $12 per barrel, the Clairgeau brought $18 and $20. Of course, the quantity of this variety that reaches market is very small, when compared with Bartletts and Duchesse, and it remains to be tested, whether, with a large supply of Clairgeau, the prices will keep in advance of other leading kinds, as happens to be the case for the last half-dozen years. On heavy clay soils that have been thoroughly drained, the Beurre Clairgeau has grown best, and held its foliage much better than when planted in light soil.
The Duchesse d'Angouleme, when well grown, is a favorite sort in New York market, and when carefully put up, finds ready sale at good prices. The fruit of this kind should be carefully thinned when not larger than walnuts. One barrel of large, well shaped fruit will bring more than two barrels of medium or small-sized fruit. This fact is worth carrying into practice, not only with the Duchesse, but with almost every variety grown extensively for market, even with the Seckel. I am of the belief that it will pay the fruit-grower to go over the trees and thin out the fruit.
The Louise Bonne de Jersey is well and favorably known in New York market, and it is safe to plant it when the tree grows freely. In New Jersey and Long Island it is unreliable, and its culture has been given up by most growers on this account.
The Flemish Beauty, once the pride of every pear orchard, is from year to year being worked over in Eastern orchards, with other more reliable market sorts. It cannot be recommended for profit now in any of the Northern or Middle States.
The Beurre Bosc still holds a high position among the choice list for amateur or market purposes. The tree requires age before bearing large crops. It does well in a wide range of territory, and is popular in market. The Urbaniste makes a handsome tree to look at in our orchard. The growth of wood is regular, making a fine pyramidal form. The fruit is only of medium size, without color, and no sale for it in New York. On this point I am thoroughly satisfied, because for seven years past I have Bent some of this variety each year to market, and have never sold them for more than from $3 to $5 per barrel, and very little demand even at these low figures.
The Seckel is, probably, the most popular pear on the whole list. It always sells even when other varieties are a drug in market. The tree is a slow grower and the fruit small, so that for profit the tree must have age before anything worth speaking of can be realized.
Of Winter varieties the Beurre d'Anjou still takes the lead. Owing to the season, this variety ripened before the Winter fairly set in this year. The fruit is large, colors up well before ripening, and is becoming a favorite among consumers. When young the tree is a shy bearer in our orchard, but this is overcome with age. The Beurre d'Anjou may now be classed as one of the standard early Winter sorts. What we grew this year sold for $18 per barrel in November.
The Lawrence is of good quality, and surpasses other varieties in its keeping qualities. The fruit is only medium size when well grown, and, unless under high culture, considerable of the crop is likely to run small. The tree makes a rapid and irregular growth of wood, and needs early attention to keep it in shape. The Lawrence brought from $8 to $10 per barrel, in quantity, last Fall. Like other varieties, they ripened a month before their usual season, and growers were compelled to sell in October and November.
The Vicar of Winkfield bore a large crop of fruit the past year. Early in the season growers feared, owing to the abundant crop of apples, that Vicars of Winkfield would not bring anything in market. However, almost everybody was favorably disappointed at the prices. We sold ours at from $9 to $10 per barrel, at a time when choice apples, carefully packed, were worth only $2 per barrel in the same market, and persons who are familiar with fruit-culture, are well aware of the fact, that a barrel of marketable Vicar pears can be produced on less surface and at leas expense than a barrel of Northern Spy apples.
Those about to plant pear trees with a view to profit, should make a careful canvass before selecting a list of varieties for orchard-planting.
In another article on this subject I will have something to say about some of the new varieties. - N. Y. Tribune.