Question: Is it true I can no longer purchase a ‘Bradford’ pear tree? Someone told me this at a nursery.
Answer: You can still find ‘Bradford’ for sale as well as other varieties of Callery pear. However, there are problems with it and the other varieties, and Georgia nurseries have other trees that are beautiful without the headaches these pears cause.
Here is some information to consider and to help you understand what someone may have told you: The 'Bradford' variety of Callery pear has been popular for many years. In fact, the name is so common that some people call all Callery pears "Bradford pears" whether they are the actual 'Bradford' variety or not.
Other varieties of Callery pear include 'Artistocrat,' 'Capitol,' 'Cleveland Select,' 'Holmford' (also sold under the name 'New Bradford') and 'Redspire.' All have the same white flowers that 'Bradford' is known for but vary in height, width or fall color. Some are noted to be less likely to break apart in winds and ice storms than 'Bradford' is. (That is a real drawback with 'Bradford.') Perhaps these newer varieties were what the person was referring to when he told you 'Bradford' was no longer available — that there are other varieties considered superior and his nursery is no longer carrying ‘Bradford.’
Even though they are popular, however, 'Bradford' and other Callery pears are not the best trees to plant. As noted above, 'Bradford' is prone to break apart in storms. Even relatively young specimens can split in two.
Another problem that has become painfully apparent is that the trees are invasive and hard to get rid of. Although bred as sterile and thornless, people have now discovered the different varieties of Callery pear can produce fruit with viable seeds that sprout into dangerously thorny thickets of wild pear trees. The thorns are long and sharp enough to put out an eye. If you have ever faced a patch of these trees or tried to remove them, it is a painful struggle. If you have the herculean task of removing wild pears, invest in goggles, leather gloves, long-handled loppers and antiseptic.
'Bradford' and other Callery pears can be beautiful in bloom, but there are alternatives that hold up better in the landscape and do not spread into areas where they are not wanted. Here are a few alternative white-flowering trees to consider: redbud/Judas tree (there is a white form as well as the more common reddish purple), Japanese flowering apricot (Prunus mume), sarvisberry/serviceberry, flowering dogwood, star magnolia, fringe tree/grancy graybeard, Carolina silverbell and blackhaw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium).
Q: Why do Red Delicious apples I see in the supermarket look different from the ones I saw at the orchard?
A: Perhaps the apples you saw at the supermarket were grown in Washington. Both Georgia and Washington grow the same variety, but when grown in the South it looks different than it does when grown in the cool Pacific Northwest. Our Red Delicious apples are rounder than and not as elongated as those from Washington. Also, ours are not as dark red.
If you are only familiar with Washington State apples, try some of the ones grown here in Georgia. You will not be disappointed!
If you have questions about services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, write Arty Schronce (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit the department’s website at www.agr.georgia.gov.