Preventing premature fruit drop

Credit: Red58bill

Q: I’ve had a pear tree in my garden for three years. Last year and the year before, it had beautiful flowers, but all the fruits started falling off when they were still small. What can I do?

There are probably several reasons for premature fruit drop. Pear trees, like most other fruit trees, generally require another different pear tree to help in cross-pollination (such as ‘Bartlett’ and ‘Anjou’). The second pear tree should flower about the same time and be within 30 m (100 ft.). If you lack space to plant another tree, try grafting an appropriate pear cultivar onto your existing tree.

Another reason for your lack of fruit could be a shortage of bees when the blossoms are open. Consider adding a nesting box for mason bees.

If pollination has been successful, one should be able to see seeds developing in the young fruit when cut open. June drop can be also be prevalent if plants are under stress, (perhaps due to a lack of water in the soil or if the young tree is forced to compete with grass close to its trunk).

Fruit trees usually do some shedding of young fruit if there is an over-production. You can help minimize this problem by thinning out the fruit (golf-ball size) every 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 in.) apart.