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Shenandoah pear
Shenandoah pear.
Image courtesy Richard Bell, ARS.

Snappy New Pear Is Long-Storing, Blight-Resistant

By Rosalie Marion Bliss
July 19, 2005

Shenandoah, the third fire blight-resistant pear developed by Agricultural Research Service horticulturist Richard Bell, has recently been released. The luscious new pear will appeal to consumers who enjoy rich-tasting fruit, because its higher-than-average acidity gives it a snappy flavor. Shenandoah's relatively high acidity is balanced with a high level of sugars that makes it sweet.

Fire blight is a devastating pear disease caused by a bacterium, Erwinia amylovora, native to North America. It greatly limits pear production in eastern and midwestern states, so growers in California, Oregon and Washington produce most of the pears harvested in the United States. Shenandoah can be grown in all production regions, but will be especially useful in areas where fire blight is prevalent.

In the Eastern United States, pears mature and are harvested from early August through early October. Shenandoah matures in September, about four weeks after the widely grown Bartlett variety. Commercial and backyard pear growers will find the new pear can be stored for up to four months in cold air storage.

Bell and colleagues at the ARS Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, W.Va., began developing the original seedling of Shenandoah more than two decades ago. Because pear trees have a long juvenile period, they don't produce enough fruit for evaluation until they are five to eight years old. The researchers then spent an additional eight years studying how long the Shenandoah pear tree takes to bear a crop, the quality of the crop's yield and its consistency from one year to the next.

Certified bud wood of Shenandoah is available to nurseries from Pullman-based Washington State University's National Research Support Project No. 5, by contacting manager William Howell ( or by contacting Richard Bell.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief in-house scientific research agency.