This year things will be looking mighty different at market, as there will be very few, if any, Asian pears for sale at our stand. Asian pear fans are already saddened and confused by this sudden change of events, so here’s what’s going on…
Most of our Asian pears over the last 20 years were coming from a property which we leased back when NSO first got started. When we bought our property here in Cochranville, we planted a lot of Asian pear trees with which to replace the crop from those we knew we’d lose when our lease was up on the other property.
However, pear trees in general, and most Asian pears in particular, are susceptible to a disease called fireblight. Some say it is called fireblight because of the rate at which it spreads and others say it is because the trees look as if they were blackened by fire when they get the disease. Hosui, our main Asian pear variety, is the poster child of fireblight susceptibility. We have lost many trees to the disease over the years, and on our new farm we have had to replant some areas of the Asian pear orchard twice in less than 10 years. This is not an economic way to grow fruit, although we struggle gamely on.
You can see what some of the fireblight looks like (as well as other problems we have growing Asian pears) in this short video.
So now, this year, we’re in a situation where our lease on the original property has ended, and the Asian pear trees here are in various stages of being replanted or are just starting to bear fruit.
With some luck with the weather (which controls fireblight infection and spread), we will eventually get mature trees established and once again have a more plentiful supply of Asian pears. We have also diversified our replanting with varieties that are hopefully more tolerant of fireblight than Hosui. Shinsui and Niitaka seem to be much more able to withstand the onslaught.
Hopefully in the years ahead you’ll see more Asian pears at the market again. In the meantime, we appreciate your understanding and support. Farming is always fraught with challenges, and Mother Nature is ultimately in control, despite our hard work.
With the limited supply we have, the Asian pears will first be distributed to our Fruit Share CSA members this year. Any which remain after that will be available at our on-farm store. But very few, if any, will be traveling to the farmers’ markets this year, sorry to say. So...if you do see any...snatch them up quickly!
Thank you for your continued support and encouragement over these past 25 years of NSO...it is because of you that farms like ours can exist and thrive to bring you delicious food.
Lisa, Ike, and the entire staff at NSO