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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

How are Bradford Pears grown?

When my Son was in grade school I went on a field trip with him to McMinnville TN where they grow lots and lots of trees and bushes.

They grow about 20 acres of Peach trees and about 20 acres of shrubs. I don't remember the name of the shrub or bushes. After 2 years they cut the peach tree off at the roots and throw away the tree. After 2 years they cut the roots off of the shrub and throw away the roots. The shrubs are grafted to the peach tree roots. After about 2 more years they have a Bradford Pear tree.

Bradford Pear has a life expectency of about 20 years. When it gets big is self distructs. It gets too large and a strong wind or a thunder storm will blow it down. Or the limbs will get too heavy and they will brake off. Some times one limb brakes off and causes a chain reaction next thing you know one side of the tree splits and falls off.

I had 2 Bradford Pears in my front yard and one tree self distruction when it was about 9 years old. One day I notice the entire tree split like a banana peal all the limbs broke off and they were laying all around the tree like spokes of a wagon wheel.

The 18 year old tree is still growing but it has lost several large limbs and once it lost about 1/3 of the tree split and fell off. It looked pretty bad for a while but now it is looking better. Next time it looses a limb I am cutting the tree down and turning the whole tree into firewood.

I will never plant another Bradford Pear. They sure do look nice before they self distruct.

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Location: Oregon

Wow, Gary! That must be frustrating to one who has worked to grow a productive fruit tree!

I have never grown a Bradford pear tree ... or any other type of pear, for that matter, but I have experienced "self-pruning" trees. :roll:

When I lived in So, Cal., I quickly learned never to park my car under any of the lovely old English walnut trees that seemed to be so popular in the area. It's really heartbreaking to come out from class, one's office, or one's home only to find a huge walnut tree limb has landed squarely on top of your car. :(
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

I had my perfectly healthy 12 yr old or so grown-from-seedling volunteer Callery pear chopped down. One of the problems, I found out, is that Bradford pears were not supposed to fruit, but they were wrong. They've crossed and their fruits are favored by wild animals who spread the seeds. These sports are popping up everywhere.

It was beautiful, well-shaped and flowered every spring, just as gorgeous as any of the nursery grown trees in the neighborhood. It was also prolific with its fruits.

I had mine chopped down because I didn't want to bother to waste the time or space on a tree that's only going to be a problem later on. I also didn't want it to contribute to the future useless weed tree population in the neighborhood even though it had wildlife food value.

I collected all the leaves for my compost GREENS, and used the twiggy branches as base for a new sheet-mulched raised vegetable bed with a Hugelkultur twist. The trunks and bigger limbs were used as border for the raised bed. :wink:

There is now a little Ginkgo tree seedling in its place. :mrgreen:

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Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 11:48 pm
Location: Tennessee

I think bradford pears are great trees unless you are looking for a tree that requires no maintenance. We trim ours back every few years and usually I spray sproutlings in the mulch rings when i spray everywhere else.

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Joined: Thu Apr 22, 2010 12:36 am
Location: North Carolina

Unfortunately, this has been the demise of Bradford Pear. Poorly angled branches that will most certainly split as the tree ages. Most knowledgable contractors have stopped installing these for this reason but I still see them being plugged into landscapes fairly often. Breeding and selection has been done to find a better angled pear, such as Cleveland Select, but I haven't seen much difference so far.

I know your frustration, I have heard it from many of my customers!
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