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Pear is the second most important deciduous tree fruit after apple, and it has been grown in Europe since prehistoric times. Pears belong to the genus Pyrus and probably originated near the Black and Caspian Seas. French and English colonists brought pears to America and the first record of pears in the North America was in Massachusetts in 1630. Although pear is a popular fruit, it is not grown as widely as apple. Pears can be grown throughout much of North America because they tolerate a wide range of climatic conditions. However, commercial production is largely limited to the west coast states. One of the major limiting factors for commercial pear production is the bacterial disease known as fireblight [Erwinia amilovora (Burrill)]. Humid conditions in the eastern U.S. favor development of this disease that can kill pear trees. There now exist several pear varieties that possess varying levels of fireblight resistance, making pear production possible in the east.
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Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Interim Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.
February 19, 2015