These pears are descendants of two Asian species: Pyrus pyrifolia (P. serotina) and P. ussuriensis. Unlike the more familiar Euro- pean pears, they have crisp, firm flesh. Asian pears of Japanese origin are roundish in shape and are often called apple pears (even though they are not hybrids between apples and pears, as some folks mistakenly believe); those of Chinese origin have a traditional pear shape.
Trees grow 2530 ft. tall and wide but are easily kept to half that size by pruning. They thrive in the same general growing conditions as European pears but typically have a lower winter chill requirement (from as low as 500 chill hours upward to 850). This would seem to indicate suitability for cooler areas of South Texas, the Gulf and South Atlantic Coasts, and northern Floridabut because most Asian pears are susceptible to fireblight (a devastating disease in warm, humid areas), growing them in the Deep South is problematic. Spraying with a copper fungicide at bud break and again a week later may help. The following selections will keep for months if stored in the refrigerator, preferably in plastic freezer bags.
'Hosui'. Excellent golden brown, russeted, medium to large fruit. Juicy, crisp, very sweet flesh. Ripens from late July to mid-August. Stores for three months. Pollinate with 'Shinko' or 'Korean Giant'.
'Korean Giant' ('Dan Bae'). Olive-green, russeted, very large fruit (can weigh up to a pound). Very juicy, sweet, and crisp. Ripens later than other selections in mid- to late September. Stores for up six months. Resists fireblight. Pollinate with 'Hosui'.
'Shinko'. Large, brownish green fruit with some russeting. Crisp texture and sweet flavor. Ripens early to mid-August. Stores for four to five months. Resists fireblight. Pollinate with 'Hosui' or 'Korean Giant'.
To produce heavy crops, Asian pears need cross-pollination with another selection that flowers at the same time; European pears are not reliable pollenizers, because their bloom periods do not always overlap. When fruit approaches the size of a quarter coin, thin it to one pear per fruiting spur. Unlike European kinds, Asian pears should be left to ripen on the tree before picking. They're excellent combined with other fruits and vegetables in salads. Store in refrigerator or cool, dark place.