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Agency Debuts Feisty New PearBy Rosalie Marion Bliss
September 26, 2002
A distinct blend of sugars, acids and other flavor compounds give a rich, aromatic taste to a new pear variety released by the Agricultural Research Service.
The new yellow and light-golden pear, named "Blake's Pride," was developed by horticulturist Richard Bell with the ARS Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, W.Va.
The beauty of this pear isn't just skin deep. The fruit is endowed not only with excellent eating quality, but also with resistance to fire blight, a devastating pear disease. Caused by a bacterium native to North America, fire blight greatly limits pear production in the eastern and midwestern United States.
According to Bell, the U.S. pear industry relies heavily on just four major pear varieties, leaving much room, and demand, for new and improved alternatives. "Blake's Pride" now provides commercial pear growers and homeowners a new selection of disease-resistant pear.
Budwood of "Blake's Pride" is available free to nurseries on request by contacting Dr. Bell through the lab's web site at:
Since the variety has been certified as virus-free, Bell expects a growing demand from orchardists and homeowners beginning next year.
Pears mature and are harvested from early August through early October, with varieties farther south ripening earliest. "Blake's Pride" ripens 10 to 14 days after the widely grown "Bartlett" variety. California, Oregon and Washington state together produce most of the pears harvested in the United States.
The new variety is the second fire-blight-resistant pear developed by Bell, who is now planning additional new releases in the near future. ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.