Pear Tree Down

September 18th, 2008

Pear Tree DownSo, a couple weeks ago (I’ve been so busy it has taken me this long to blog about it) I woke up to a sight… my pear tree was missing it’s trunk.

Planted in 2003 this tree was getting fairly large, and bore a good deal of fruit this year. It was around 7 feet when planted in 2003, and now probably reached close to 20. The base of the trunk was maybe 5 inches in diameter, overall, starting to become a fairly big tree.

So I walk out there and as you can see in the picture about 6 feet of the top of the central leader had been broken.

We had no rain (notice the brown grass, we had a mini drought at the time) we had no wind. So my thought was a critter had climbed the tree to get at the fruit and the extra weight had caused it to snap. We do have a couple fat ground hogs, so I figured such a thing was possible.

But then, I thought, why would the animal climb to the top of the highest part of the tree instead of going after the low hanging fruit?

So in the end, I decided that this was likely caused by the fruit itself, and that seems odd. Pears, of course, evolved growing fruit, and so the tree should be capable to hold up the weight of it’s own fruit, right? I guess not.

So, for those of you with younger fruit trees out there, be mindful of the weight of that fruit, it can cause damage.

8 Responses to “Pear Tree Down”

  1. Shady Gardener  Says:

    What a sad time you must have had. Did it have THAT many pears? Will you replace it? (That was a Big Tree!)

  2. Administrator  Says:

    Oh… the tree is still up, and big, just a little shorter now. I’m keeping it up. It’ll recover eventually.

  3. jeff-nhn  Says:

    I hope your not so pleasant experience and picture sink in to all the backyard fruit growers. You are 100% correct; the weight of the fruit broke that limb. When growing fruit you either have two options, brace the branches or thin the fruit before the weight starts breaking limbs.

  4. roz payne  Says:

    I just lost a very heavy branch w/ about 50 pears on it . the branch tore off at the bark of the tree, about 6 inches of the trunk tore.
    I want to know what i should do about the trunk where it is torn to save the tree. There are about 300 green pearson the other branches. should i leave the trunk alone, paint it with white latex paint, try to clean up the rough wound. The tear does not go around the trunk but ony about 6 inches on a good size trunk
    any help would be useful thanks Roz Payne

  5. Administrator  Says:

    I would clean up any partially broken branches, they apply tree pruning sealer (spray can of black stuff) to the exposed bits.

    The tree should survive. So long as the bark loss isn’t all the way around (all the way down is less a problem than all the way around).

  6. Andrea VanderWoude  Says:

    Bradford pear (an ornamental pear variety) used to be planted in parking lot islands because of the beautiful flower display. The trees have weak crotches, naturally (because of the angle at which they come from the trunk, as one writer mentioned), and started to break off and fall on the cars in the parking lots. Though I doubt you have a Bradford pear (they are only really ornamental), It is possible your tree may have had the same problem…it runs in the family.

    To Roz: Just clean up the break, so it is not so rough, don’t seal it. It used to be recommended that wounds on trees be sealed, but they have found that that is bad advice. The tree itself has defense cells (like our own white blood cells) that clot together just under the wound to seal the area off to disease and pests. The area will naturally form bark around itself in time. Wounds that are sealed form a gap in the wood between the wood and the bark that is growing over it which leads to cavities, rot and canker, as well as slow down the rate at which the bark grows back over the wound. You are better off just letting nature and time heal the tree!


  7. randall  Says:

    I don’t thank it was the ground hog,i dont think they climb tree’s or ive never seen one in a tree.and i have lots of them around here to.Im shure your tree will be better than ever with time.

  8. Keefer  Says:

    Even though I thin the fruit and use poles to support the branches my trees still lose a branch or two every year from their heavy load. I suspect that I remove more fruits than I leave. I cull them over time, concentrating on the pears that are blemished or stung or crowding out other pears.
    And for the record…
    I have seen a groundhog in a tree.
    My dog was across the field in the tree line barking up a storm one day. When I went out to get him I saw that he had treed a groundhog. I don’t know if he chased it up the tree or looked up and saw it but I’m pretty sure that groundhog climbed that tree.
    However, I don’t think a groundhog would be smart enough to seek out the ripest fruit at the top of your pear tree. He would be too distracted with the drops on the ground or at the very best, settle for the first fruit he encountered on his climb.
    Of course it’s all a guess.

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